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Comparison of stormwater biofiltration systems in Southeast Australia and Southern California

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Stormwater biofilters (also called rain gardens, bioretention systems, and bioswales) are used to manage stormwater runoff in urbanized environments. Some benefits of biofilters include flood prevention, stormwater runoff water quality improvement, and wildlife habitat. This technology has been implemented on a larger scale in southeast Australia, but cities and counties in southern California just beginning to construct biofilter systems to manage stormwater runoff. Biofilters tend to be larger in southern California than in southeast Australia. Differences in rainfall patterns likely affect biofilter function. Southern California has much longer periods between rain events than southeast Australia, providing challenges to establishing and maintaining vegetation in biofilters. The use of biofilters for restoring predevelopment flow regimes has been studied in a peri‐urban watershed in southeast Australia, but flow regime restoration is not likely in highly urbanized locations in both Australia and southern California. However, stormwater runoff treatment and harvesting in decentralized biofilters could substantially reduce storm flows and improve water quality in receiving waters while improving urban water supply and extending the life of existing stormwater management infrastructure. WIREs Water 2015, 2:131–146. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1064 This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water
Mean monthly temperatures for Melbourne and Los Angeles. Data for 1994–2013: Melbourne and Los Angeles.
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Examples of typical stormwater biofilter settings. (a) Curb cutout biofilter located in Culver City, CA, U.S.A. on Baldwin Avenue; and (b) standalone biofilter located in Mt. Evelyn, VIC, Australia in Morrison Reserve.
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Distribution of antecedent dry days for Melbourne and Los Angeles. Inset: Distributions of antecedent dry days for Melbourne and Los Angeles during Driest and Wettest Years. Data for 1994–2013: Melbourne and Los Angeles.
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Precipitation patterns for Melbourne and Los Angeles. Data for 1994–2013: Melbourne and Los Angeles.
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Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness
Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water

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