A field-scale bioretention rain garden system was constructed using a novel bi-phasic (i.e. sequence of anaerobic to aerobic) concept for improving retention and removal of storm water runoff pollutants. Hydraulic tests with bromide tracer and simulated runoff pollutants (nitrate-N, phosphate-P, Cu, Pb, and Zn) were performed in the system under a simulated continuous rainfall. The objectives of the tests were (1) to determine hydraulic characteristics of the system, and (2) to evaluate the movement of runoff pollutants through the system. For the 180 mm/24 h rainfall, the bi-phasic bioretention system effectively reduced both peak flow (∼70%) and runoff volume (∼42%). The breakthrough curves (BTCs) of bromide tracer suggest that the transport pattern of the system is similar to dispersed plug flow under this large runoff event. The BTCs of bromide showed mean 10% and 90% breakthrough times of 5.7 h and 12.5 h, respectively. Under the continuous rainfall, a significantly different transport pattern was found between each runoff pollutant. Nitrate-N was easily transported through the system with potential leaching risk from the initial soil medium, whereas phosphate-P and metals were significantly retained indicating sorption-mediated transport. These findings support the importance of hydraulics, in combination with the soil medium, when creating bioretention systems for bioremediation that are effective for various rainfall sizes and intervals.

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