Limitations of the Infiltration Approach to Stormwater Management in the Highway Environment

Focus Area

Water Quality/Wetlands


Natural Resources






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

Reducing runoff volumes using infiltration of stormwater
has drawn increasing interest in recent years, given its ability to reduce
stormwater volume, increase groundwater recharge, reduce peak flows, and lessen
the transport of non-point source pollutants. Generally, volume reduction
efforts are focused on infiltration and therefore have the potential for
environmental impacts in the areas of water balance (e.g. groundwater mounding)
and the introduction or mobilization of contaminants into groundwater.

•             Failures
and maintenance costs.

•             Heavy
metal issues.  Literature has shown that
heavy metals are generally captured by the upper layers of soil, but that
breakthrough can occur due to sorption limitations of the soil. Hydrocarbons
(including PAHs) tend to sorb to soil particles and are generally trapped
within the first few centimeters of soil in infiltration basins. More research
is needed, however, on the fate and biodegradation of hydrocarbons captured in
infiltration facilities.

each state could conduct more detailed evaluations of
their climate, soils, topographic, receiving water and other local conditions
to refine parameters in these tools to improve their usefulness.  A more detailed national effort could do this
as well given the improvements in GIS systems and ability to use cloud
computing to do analyze data from larger climatic data sets.

Urgency and Payoff

New regulatory trends are forcing DOTs to implement
large numbers of structures which often face a higher rate of failure and
greater maintenance demand and cost. 
These implications need to be objectively documented and accounted for
greater interagency discussion and examination at the earliest possible point.

Suggested By

Marie Venner Venner Consulting 3037985333

[email protected]