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Engineering Solutions to Improve the Removal of Fecal Indicator Bacteria by Bioinfiltration Systems during Intermittent Flow of Stormwater

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journal contribution
posted on 18.02.2016, 19:12 by Sanjay K. Mohanty, Andrew A. Torkelson, Hanna Dodd, Kara L. Nelson, Alexandria B. Boehm
Bioinfiltration systems facilitate the infiltration of urban stormwater into soil and reduce high flow events and flooding. Stormwater carries a myriad of pollutants including fecal indicator bacteria (FIB). Significant knowledge gaps exist about the ability of bioinfiltration systems to remove and retain FIB. The present study investigates the ability of model, simplified bioinfiltration systems containing quartz sand and iron oxide-coated quartz sand (IOCS) to remove two FIB (Enterococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli) suspended in synthetic stormwater with and without natural organic matter (NOM) as well as the potential for accumulated FIB to be remobilized during intermittent flow. The experiments were conducted in two phases: (1) the saturated columns packed with either sand or IOCS were contaminated by injecting stormwater with bacteria followed by injection of sterile stormwater and (2) the contaminated columns were subjected to intermittent infiltration of sterile stormwater preceded by a pause during which columns were either kept saturated or drained by gravity. During intermittent flow, fewer bacteria were released from the saturated column compared to the column drained by gravity: 12% of attached E. coli and 3% of attached Ent. faecalis were mobilized from the drained sand column compared to 3% of attached E. coli and 2% attached Ent. faecalis mobilized from the saturated sand column. Dry and wet cycles introduce moving air–water interfaces that can scour bacteria from grain surfaces. During intermittent flows, less than 0.2% of attached bacteria were mobilized from IOCS, which bound both bacteria irreversibly in the absence of NOM. Addition of NOM, however, increased bacterial mobilization from IOCS: 50% of attached E. coli and 8% of attached Ent. faecalis were released from IOCS columns during draining and rewetting. Results indicate that using geomedia such as IOCS that promote irreversible attachment of bacteria, and maintaining saturated condition, could minimize the mobilization of previous attached bacteria from bioinfiltration systems, although NOM may significantly decrease these benefits.