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Project ID: 2004NJ70B

Title: An Evaluation of Bioretention System Best Management Practices (BMPs) to Reduce Pollutant Concentrations of Stormwater and Their Potential to Contribute to Groundwater Pollution through Infiltration

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Treatment, Groundwater, Non Point Pollution

Keywords: BMPs, stormwater, detention basins, wet ponds, stormwater wetlands, bioretention, swales, prefabricated treatment devices, riparian buffers

Start Date: 03/01/2004

End Date: 03/01/2005

Federal Funds: $5,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $12,404

Congressional District: 6

Principal Investigators:
Gregory Rusciano

Christopher Obropta


According to a recent study by O’Hare, et al.6 (1986), certain wastewaters and stormwater runoff are suitable types of source water for the artificial recharge of groundwater aquifers. Furthermore, the study revealed that recharge basins such as bioretention systems are a safe method for stormwater disposal and groundwater replenishment and that any pollution of the ground water from these systems can reach a state of equilibrium through careful management. Additional research by Pitt, et al.7 (1996) found that most of the pollutants of concern possess a moderate to low groundwater contamination potential for surface infiltration of stormwater.

Previous undergraduate (Rusciano and Castellini) research has shown that showed that concentrations of metals and the amount of bacteria actually increased after infiltration through a bioretention model (i.e., a soil column that modeled the design of an actually basin. However, due to the time constraints, an insufficient amount of trials were performed to adequately model the conditions of repeated stormwater events.

The research involved with this project will explore both the findings of the undergraduate research described above and of O’Hare, et al. and Pitt, et al. The research will also explore the possibility that although a bioretention system may contribute to the pollution of stormwater quality initially, it may stabilize to effectively treat the water thereafter as suggested by O’Hare, et al. and Pitt, et al. Essentially this means that the concentrations of pollution given off by the Bioretention system will eventually reach a state of equilibrium that is lower than the initial concentration.

Since BMPs are the most accepted form of stormwater treatment, this analysis becomes very important to the future of watershed management. Furthermore, since bioretention systems are commonly used in suburban lands, New Jersey’s watershed management efforts will benefit greatly from this research

The study seeks to collect and analyze data associated with column experiments that model the structure of a bioretention system, estimate pollutant removal capabilities of bioretention systems and analyze the potential of a bioretention system to contaminate groundwater. Estimates will be performed for the parameters NJDEP has identified as the top pollutant/conditions of concern (i.e., pollutants/conditions for which the most water bodies are impaired for):
o Metals (i.e. lead, copper, and mercury)
o Nutrients (i.e. total phosphorus)
o Pathogens (measured as a function of fecal coliform)
o pH
o Additional parameters may be analyzed if time and funding permit such an endeavor.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Wednesday July 13, 2005 4:09 PM
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