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Green Urban Drainage Infrastructure: Hydrology and Modelling of Grass Swales
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Architecture and Water. (Urban Water Engineering)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2321-164X
2018 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The management of urban runoff has evolved along with the advancement of understanding of runoff environmental impacts. Besides the impacts on water quality in the receiving waters, the impacts on the urban hydrologic regime include reduced infiltration by the sealing of pervious land, reduced evapotranspiration by removal of vegetation, and the resulting increase of stormwater runoff peaks and volumes causing flooding, and ultimately degradation of receiving waters. In such considerations, urban stormwater management benefits from the implementation of Green Infrastructure which includes decentralized vegetative controls that capture and infiltrates rain where it falls and thus reduces and improves stormwater runoff. An example of small scale elements of Green Infrastructure are traditional grass swales. Through shallow depressions with mild side slopes grass swales collect and infiltrate stormwater from parking lots and roads, while runoff flows are attenuated and further conveyed depending on the hydraulic loading. Grass swales usually operate reliably and their maintenance needs are well understood. Their hydrological performance is, beside their dimensions and the contributing area, determined mainly by hydraulic and soil-related hydrological parameters that change with the intensity of the storm. Yet, because swales discharge to downstream drainage elements, either to the conventional sewer system or to other stormwater management facilities, the knowledge of the underlying inter-related processes and influential factors that govern the hydraulic and hydrological performance of grass swales is required.

Against this background, this thesis is devoted to such questions as (i) what are the differences in the hydraulic and hydrological performance of the studied swales, (ii) how do soil characteristics, including the antecedent soil moisture, influence the swale water balance for various hydraulic loadings; and (iii) how can the related hydrological processes be simulated in high-resolution and reliably predicted using a grid-based, distributed model. For this purpose, full-scale studies were performed in three 30-m grass swale sections in Luleå, Northern Sweden, by collecting hydraulic and hydrological data based on routine storm events mimicking block-rainfall storm events of 2 months and 3 years recurrence. The resulting runoff and soil moisture data were used to calculate the swale water balance, to derive event hydrographs and to obtain calibration and validation data for model simulations. The experimental results showed that the relative swale flow volume reduction decreased with an increasing soil moisture and indicated the transition in dominating swale functions: at low initial SWC, runoff was highly attenuated (up to 74%), but for high SWC, the conveyance function dominated (with attenuation as low as 17%). Runoff flow peaks were reduced, proportionally to the volume reductions. Swale outflow hydrograph lag times varied between 5 to 15 minutes and decreased with increasing soil moisture. The swale wetness affected runoff formation, attenuation and subsequent outlet discharge and, for the short-duration events tested, only the top soil layer contributed to these findings. In the three swales tested, soils, initial soil water content, saturated hydraulic conductivity and topography varied spatially significantly. Double-ring infiltrometer measurements resulted in values of 1.78, 4.04 and 9.41 cm/hr (n=9) in the three swales tested and deviated from estimates from averages of spatially integrated infiltration rates. However, with regard to spatial variability, only the topography, described as irregularities in the swale bottom slopes affected the swale runoff dissipation and conveyance in the early phase of the events. Together with estimates of the water stored in the top soil layer, 4-32% of runoff volumes from the mimicked 2-month storm were temporarily stored. The distributed model Mike SHE was found capable of simulating swale drainage processes, when properly calibrated. Close agreement (NSE>0.8) was found not only for the measured and simulated swale outlet hydrographs, but also for the changes of the soil moisture in the top soil layer, which shows rapid increase up to the saturated soil water content, but minor or no progression in depths of 0.2 m. The model output was little sensitive to the initial soil water content, especially for low inflow which resulted in larger residuals in simulated runoff peak flows and volumes. As in field measurements, spatial variability of the initial soil water content had no effect on the swale outflow, but the accuracy of the topographical representation. The thesis findings include several implications regarding effects of the assessed parameters in the application of the model for swale flow simulation and eventually the design of grass swales.

Abstract [sv]

Urban dagvattenhantering har utvecklats parallellt med en ökad förståelse för dagvattnets allmänna miljöpåver­kan. Utöver ytvattenkvalitén i recipientvatten påverkas även den hydrologiska regimen genom reducerad infilt­rationsförmåga i mark orsakad av allt tätare ytskikt samt reducerad evapotranspiration orsakad av minskad vegetationsutbredning. Detta ger både förhöjda toppflöden och avrinningsvolymer, vilket kan resultera i över­svämning och slutligen en försämrad ytvattenkvalité i recipienterna. Dagens urbana dagvattensystem förändras mot en högre grad av grön infrastruktur som en central systemkomponent. Decentraliserad omhändertagning av dagvatten såsom svackdiken utjämnar och för bort dagvattensflöden, samtidigt som de fungerar tillförlitligt och deras underhållsåtgärder är välkända. Uppbyggda med små svackor och låglutande slänter samlar svackdiken in och infiltrerar dagvatten från parkeringsytor och vägar. Dessa svackdikens hydrologiska funktion bestäms av en rad faktorer, utöver teknisk dimensionering och avrinningsområdets storlek och hydrologi, även av hydraulik och jordartsrelaterad hydrologi som förändras beroende på respektive nederbördstillfälles intensitet och varak­tighet. Eftersom svackdikens utflöde passerar nedströms liggande dagvattentekniker/anordningar, antingen konventionella ledningssystem eller andra teknologier, krävs full förståelse och kunskap om de faktorer som styr svackdikens hydraulik och hydrologi.

Mot denna bakgrund fokuserar avhandlingen på frågorna (i) vilka skillnader finns med avseende på hydraulisk och hydrologisk prestanda för de studerade svackdiken, (ii) i vilken mån påverkar markartsförhållanden, inklu­sive ingående markfuktighet, svackdikens vattenbalans vid varierande hydraulisk belastning; samt (iii) hur och i vilken mån kan ovanstående simuleras högupplöst och förutsägbart, via den rutnätsbaserade distribuerade mo­dellen Mike SHE. Därför har fullskaliga studier bedrivits i två 30 m långa svackdiken i Luleå kommuns södra stadsområde, där hydrauliska och hydrologiska data insamlats baserat på standardiserade nederbördsförlopp, återskapande blockregn med 2 månaders och 3 års återkomsttid. Data för avrinning och markfukthalter använ­des för att beräkna svackdikenas vattenbalans, nederbördförloppens hydrografer samt erhålla kalibrering- och valideringsdata för modellsimuleringar. Resultaten från experimenten visade att den volymetriska flödesre­duktionen minskade relativt sett med ökande markfukthalt, indikerande en övergång för svackdikets domine­rande funktionalitet: vid låga initiala SWC var avrinningen tydligt dämpad (upp till 74%), medan för höga SWC innebar att transportfunktionen dominerade (med dämpningsgrad ner mot 17%). Avrinnande momentana topp­flöden reducerades proportionellt mot volymreduktionen. Laggtiden för svackdikets utflödeshydrograf varierade mellan 5 och 15 minuter och reducerades med ökande markfukthalt. Fuktförhållandena i svackdiket påverkade avrinningsförloppet, flödesdämpning och efterföljande utsläpp, och enbart svackdikets översta markskikt berör­des under de kortvariga bevattningscyklerna. I de tre testade svackdikena varierade jordart, initial markfukthalt, mättad hydraulisk konduktivitet och topografi signifikant. Mätningar med dubbelrings infiltrometrar gav föl­jande resultat, 1.78, 4.04 samt 9.41 cm/h (n=9), vilket avvek från medelvärdesbaserat estimat från spatialt inte­grerade infiltrationshastigheter. Med avseende på spatial variabilitet påverkade endast svackdikenas topografi, i form av ojämnheter i och nära dikesbotten, avrinningsförloppen och bortledning under den inledande fasen av regnhändelsen. Sammantaget med uppskattningar av den lagrat vatten i marklagrets toppskikt, bedöms 4-32% av svackdikets ytavrinning från ett simulerade nederbördtillfälle med 2 månaders återkomststid kunna lagras tillfälligt. Mike SHE befanns kapabel att med god noggrannhet kunna reproducera naturbundna dräneringsför­lopp och flöden i svackdiken, förutsatt tillbörlig kalibrering. God överensstämmelse (NSE>0.8) framkom inte bara mellan uppmätta och simulerade utgående hydrografer, utan också beträffande ändring av markfukthalt i ytligt marklager med snabb höjning av fukthalt upp emot full vattenmättnad. Däremot framkom endast mindre (eller total frånvaro av) överensstämmelse vad gäller markdjup av 0.2 m. Modellens output uppvisade låg käns­lighet för ursprunglig markfukthalt, speciellt gällande lågt flöde vilket resulterade i större residualer för simule­rade toppflöden och avrinningsvolymer. För fältförsöken framkom att den initiala markfukthaltens spatiala variabilitet inte påverkade utflödet från svackdiket – i motsats till noggrannheten i dikets topografiska repre­sentation. Denna uppsats belyser samband och följdverkningar beträffande påverkan från undersökta parametrar på en modell för flödes- och vattenföring i ett svackdike och framledes framtida design av svackdiken.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2018. , p. 110
Series
Licentiate thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1757
National Category
Water Engineering
Research subject
Urban Water Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-67325ISBN: 978-91-7790-035-1 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7790-036-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-67325DiVA, id: diva2:1175930
Presentation
2018-02-26, E632, E-Building, Campus Porsön, Luleå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2015-151Swedish Research Council Formas, 2015-121Available from: 2018-01-22 Created: 2018-01-19 Last updated: 2018-02-05Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Advancing green infrastructure design: Field evaluation of grassed urban drainage swales
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Advancing green infrastructure design: Field evaluation of grassed urban drainage swales
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Novatech proceedings 2016, 2016Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Grassed drainage swales, which represent common elements of urban green infrastructures, are designed for different soils, flow capacities, dimensions, slopes and vegetation. Their design is often based on local experience rather than technical guidelines, and consequently, the design and performance of grassed swales, with respect to flow capacity and stormwater management objectives may significantly vary from one jurisdiction to another. To improve this situation and reduce design uncertainties, a field study of grassed swales was conducted by assessing their hydrologic performance. A 30-m section of an urban grassed swale in sandy soils, located in the City of Luleå (Northern Sweden), was equipped with a mobile water supply system and instrumented for measuring swale flow characteristics. The water supply system comprised five containers (~ 1 m3 each) providing controlled longitudinal and lateral inflows into the tested swale section. These inflows were selected to mimic stormwater runoff from a typical drainage area. At the first test site, 14 rainfall events of 30- minute duration were simulated and the resulting swale flows and soil moisture conditions were measured. The experimental variables addressed included wet and dry antecedent conditions, and three inflow rates. The preliminary results indicate that the degree of swale inflow attenuation depended on the magnitude of runoff inflow, on the initial soil moisture conditions and that significant volumes of water can be stored and transmitted during the stormwater drainage process.

Keywords
Vegetated swale, hydrologic performance, soil moisture, urban green infrastructure design
National Category
Water Engineering
Research subject
Urban Water Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-60341 (URN)
Conference
9th International Conference on planning and technologies for sustainable management of Water in the City, Lyon France, June 28 - July 1, 2016
Projects
GrönNano
Funder
VINNOVA, 1773246
Available from: 2016-11-11 Created: 2016-11-11 Last updated: 2018-02-26Bibliographically approved

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