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Advancing Stormwater Biofiltration: Overcoming Obstacles for Increased Implementation (2011-2015)

Published: 19 August 2015

Stormwater biofilters contribute to a sustainable urban environment due to their ability to effectively treat and retain stormwater. They are aesthetic and can be applied into dense urban areas. The objective of this research is to support an increased biofilter implementation by overcoming existing obstacles with special regard to cold climate.

A sustainable stormwater management has to regard stormwater retention, quality treatment as well as esthetical aspects. These three aims can be achieved by implementation of stormwater biofilters, also known as rain gardens and bioretention systems.

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Stormwater biofilters consisting of vegetated filter media in a trench/basin are a recently developed technology to treat stormwater by various processes in the filter media and plant (roots). The treated water is discharged through drain pipes or infiltrated to the surrounding soils. The biofilter’s performance is affected by physical, chemical and biological processes depending on the ambient conditions.

In the current project, the biofilter performance with special regard to Sweden’s cold climate is evaluated. The effect of cold temperatures and road salt-laden stormwater in the treatment is investigated. Further, various design features such as a cold-climate-adapted filter material developed at LTU and native plant species are examined. To assess the effect of these factors on the treatment of metals, nutrients and pathogens, laboratory experiments have been conducted at LTU.

Their results are verified in field tests. These tests are conducted in inter alia Tyresö and Malmö and connected to the research project GreenNano.

The results will support an increased implementation of stormwater biofilters in Sweden and Northern Europe by providing a better knowledge base about the design performance in Sweden’s climate.

The project financed by The Swedish Research Council Formas and VINNOVA is carried out in collaboration with Monash University, Australia, and NTNU Trondheim in Norway.


Project Manager

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Godecke Blecken

Luleå University of Technology

971 87 Luleå

Tel: 0920-49 13 94



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Maria Viklander

Luleå University of Technology

971 87 Luleå

Phone: 0920-49 16:34



Laila Søberg

Luleå University of Technology

971 87 Luleå

Tel: 0920-49 30 59