First Advisor

Jennifer Morse

Date of Publication

Summer 9-12-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science and Management


Environmental Science and Management




Storm water retention basins -- Oregon – Portland -- Case studies, Runoff -- Purification, Water quality management, Urban runoff -- Management



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 63 pages)


Bioretention systems are commonly used to treat and detain stormwater runoff and help mitigate for many negative effects of urbanization. Despite the widespread use of bioretention systems, few field-based studies have assessed how these facilities affect water quality many years after installation. The goal of this project is to assess the pollution reduction effectiveness of lined bioretention facilities that have been in use and functioning for 4-8 years. To meet this objective, this project measured water quality characteristics of stormwater flowing into and out of seven facilities installed throughout Portland, Oregon during real storm events. Stormwater grab samples were taken over a 2-year period during the fall, winter, and spring. Results showed decreased concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS; 94%), ammonia (85%), total copper (59%), total zinc (80%), and dissolved zinc (41%). Results for dissolved copper indicated an overall increase in outflow concentrations of 23%, however variability between facilities was high. These results support other similar findings showing that TSS is effectively reduced by bioretention facilities, even after 4-8 years of use. However, based on this study, effective TSS removal by bioretention facilities does not necessarily equate to equally effective treatment of other pollutants, especially orthophosphate and nitrate, which increased in outflow from the bioretention facilities by 141% and 2070%, respectively. Results of this study indicate that additional research is necessary to determine the significance of the observed increase in nutrients, understand the underlying mechanisms, and test possible design modifications to improve nitrate and orthophosphate removal.


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