The Role of Bioretention Systems in the Treatment of Stormwater

Georgina Laurenson, Seth Laurenson, Nanthi Bolan, Simon Beecham, Ian Clark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Urbanization leads to water catchments becoming more impervious and channelized. These modifications to the natural landscape result in reduced water infiltration into soils and base flow components that cause a greater volume and rate of surface water runoff. In contrast to conventional stormwater management systems, water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) technologies manage rainfall where it falls, through enhancement of infiltration capacity of impervious areas and rerouting runoff across pervious areas. WSUD aims to better incorporate several urban water sources, including stormwater, into the local hydrological cycle so as to (1) reduce demand on potable water, (2) minimize pollutant loading to surface waters, and (3) restore or maintain predevelopment hydrological processes. Bioretention systems are designed to remove both dissolved pollutants and particulate matter from stormwater runoff and reduce the volume and rate of stormwater discharged. Treatment is achieved via a number of chemical, biological and physical processes including sedimentation, filtration, sorption, reduction, vegetative uptake and microbial biomass assimilation. The efficiency of bioretention systems in the treatment of contaminants in stormwater depends on a number of factors including substrate conditions, type of vegetation, climatic conditions and on the volume and rate of stormwater infiltrated and discharged. This chapter discusses the various processes involved in the treatment of stormwater within bioretention systems; in particular, the fate of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and metals, and the soil-plant processes involved in their retention. The factors affecting treatment efficiency are also examined.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Agronomy
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Agronomy
ISSN (Print)0065-2113


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