The impacts of bioretention areas at the watershed scale: new paper published in the Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment

High flows of stormwater can have dramatic impacts on urban and suburban areas, degrading stream health by causing erosion and impacting aquatic critters’ ability to live there. Increases in pavement and other impermeable surfaces also contribute to flash floods.

Bioretention areas, which are related to the more commonly known “rain garden,” are patches of vegetated area that have the capacity to absorb and purify stormwater as it moves through cities and towns. IRIS researchers Rod Lammers, an IRIS alum and now Assistant Professor at Central Michigan University, Laura Miller, a former IRIS alum now at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Brian Bledsoe, IRIS Director, examined whether these areas could have watershed level scale effects.

Their paper concluded that bioretention areas did in fact have positive watershed level effects, though these effects were reduced as the bioretention areas got smaller or shallower, or rainfall reached a level of intensity where they just couldn’t keep up.

The authors hope that these results can help guide future installations, so that managers can maximize the impact of the bioretention areas they install.

Read the full article here.