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

The practice of mitigating roadway runoff through infiltration has increased in recent years because of its ability to reduce stormwater volume, increase groundwater recharge, and reduce peak flows and pollutant transport. Some state departments of transportation (DOTs) are required to use infiltration Best Management Practices (BMPs) for their roadway projects unless infiltration is proven infeasible. Research to date has focused on the ability to capture stormwater discharge and pollutants using infiltration. However, little attention has been given to the other potential environmental and infrastructure effects of using infiltration BMPs. These potential effects may include issues of water balance (e.g., groundwater mounding) and the introduction or mobilization of contaminants into groundwater. While infiltration has quickly become the BMP of choice, there is growing concern that requiring infiltration BMPs may inadvertently lead to other consequences to the natural and built environment. For instance, research has shown that heavy metals and hydrocarbons are generally captured by the upper layers of soil, but breakthrough of these contaminants can occur. Research is needed to better understand the capabilities of infiltration BMPs in different environmental settings and to identify the potential limitations and overall environmental effects of infiltration BMPs. The objective of this research is to develop guidance for state DOTs to determine appropriate siting of stormwater infiltration BMPs based on the limitations, risks, and benefits in the context of the built and natural environments (e.g., surface water and groundwater, soils, existing infrastructure). The guidance should address a broad range of issues and needs associated with choosing and siting infiltration BMPs for mitigating roadway stormwater that may include but not be limited to the following: (1) Limitations (e.g., cost, maintenance, regulatory, receiving waters, geotechnical); (2) Effects of climate, soils, topography, geology, vegetation, and land use; (3) Effects of pollutants of concern on surface water and groundwater quality; (4) Effects on surface water and groundwater quantity (e.g., recharge, baseflow augmentation, groundwater mounding); (5) Identification of gaps in the body of knowledge; and (6) Options for improving the effectiveness and reducing risks. The guidance should outline decision-making processes and criteria that would assist agencies in identifying flexible solutions.  

Language

  • English

Project

  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $500000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 25-51

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Rogers, William

  • Performing Organizations:

    GeoSyntec Consultants

    838 SW First Avenue, Suite 430
    Portland, OR  United States  97204
  • Principal Investigators:

    Strecker, Eric

  • Start Date: 20150810
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180817
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37528

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543480
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 25-51
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 15 2014 1:01AM