Bioretention is an effective technology for urban stormwater management, but the nutrient removal in conventional bioretention systems is highly variable. Thus, a pilot bioretention column experiment was performed to evaluate the nutrient control of systems with commercial activated carbon and river sediment-derived biochar. Significant chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total phosphorus (TP) leaching were found with the addition of activated carbon and biochar, but total nitrogen (TN) leaching was significantly improved when activated carbon was used as the medium. During a semi-synthetic runoff experiment, the bioretention systems containing two types of fluvial biochar showed relatively better COD and TN control (average mass removal efficiencies and cumulative removal efficiencies) than commercial activated carbon. However, the average TP mass removal efficiency with commercial activated carbon (95% ± 3%) was significantly higher than biochar (48% ± 20% and 56 ± 14%). The addition of biochar in the media increased the nitrogen removal efficiency, and the addition of activated carbon significantly increased the phosphorous removal efficiency. Therefore, both biochar and activated carbon are effective materials for bioretention, and fluvial biochar provides an alternative approach to comprehensively utilize river sediment.

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