Teresa Culver, a professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment at the University of Virginia, and her Ph.D.students, Maria Rossetti and Md Ibrahim Sabit, presented at the 2019 World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in Pittsburgh. They have been testing the performance of innovative green infrastructure systems for stormwater management in both field and laboratory studies. Their approaches create conditions that mimic natural hydrologic functions for urbanized areas.
The Congress is sponsored by the Environmental & Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Culver is a national officer of the institute’s Interdisciplinary Council.
Rossetti is investigating the potential benefits of mixing biochar — organic matter, often made from waste wood products, that is heated until it decomposes — into roadside soils to cost-effectively manage runoff from roadways. Culver and Rossetti have found that soils with biochar additions retain more moisture and compact less than natural soil alone, potentially allowing for greater infiltration and improved conditions for microbes to take up nutrients.
Sabit is experimenting with adding control valves to subsurface drainage systems in rain gardens. This drainage is often required to prevent flooding during large storms, but it can reduce the performance of the bioretention system during smaller events. By closing a valve during most conditions, a greater volume of stormwater and associated nutrients can be infiltrated, while still providing a way to prevent flooding in heavy rain events. Future work will link sensors to the valve to adjust its aperture in real time.