Abstract

Numerous laboratory and field experiments have found that rain gardens exhibit excellent heavy metal retention (>88%). However, none examined the impact of macropore flow on this retention; this was established to be a key factor in heavy metal capture by previous landfill leachate experiments. Therefore, the aim of the experiments detailed in this paper was to investigate the effect of a single artificial macropore on heavy metal retention in a layered soil column (with a similar configuration to a rain garden). The findings of these experiments suggest that macropore flow does not impact the hydraulic performance or heavy metal retention of the columns with 99% of copper, lead and zinc captured. This indicates that macropores are not detrimental to heavy metal retention in rain garden systems with highly conductive soils; this was attributed to the high hydraulic conductivity of the media used and the depth of the system. However, in shallower systems, such as green roofs, the retention of heavy metals and other pollutants may be impacted by the existence of preferential flow, and more research into this area is needed.

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