Can we use a simple modelling tool to validate stormwater biofilters for herbicides treatment?

Kefeng Zhang, Anja Randelovic, Ana Deletic, Declan Page, David T. McCarthy

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This study proposes a new stormwater biofilter validation approach, using a process-based model of micropollutant removal in stormwater biofilters. The model performance was assessed against in-situ challenge tests conducted on a field biofilter under challenging operational conditions for removing four herbicides (atrazine, simazine, prometryn and glyphosate). Two-site adsorption kinetics were used on the laboratory results to estimate parameters; the estimated Koc (soil organic carbon-water partitioning coefficient) corresponded well with literature values, while fe (instantaneous adsorption fraction) and αk (kinetic adsorption rate) differed from the literature. The agreement between modelled outflow concentrations and in-situ challenge tests was good for prometryn (Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient, E = 0.60) and moderate for glyphosate (E = 0.45), with up to 20% over-prediction of peak outflow concentrations. Poor performance were found for atrazine and simazine (E = 0.30). The prediction uncertainties were bigger after long dry periods, which was attributed to complex processes (biodegradation and evaporation) not captured in either the laboratory column experiments or the model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-420
Number of pages9
JournalUrban Water Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • predictive uncertainties
  • stormwater biofilter treatment model (MPiRe)
  • Treatment validation

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