Stormwater biofilter treatment model for faecal microorganisms

Pengfei Shen, Ana Deletic, Christian Urich, Gayani I. Chandrasena, David T. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a new model to simulate long-term microbial removal in stormwater biofilters. The water flow module uses a ‘three-bucket’ approach to describe the flow processes in biofilters, while the microbial quality module employs the one-dimensional advection-dispersion equation to represent microbial transport and fate under different design and operational conditions. Three governing processes for microbial removal, adsorption, desorption and die-off, are included; temperature is also incorporated as a key factor for die-off. The model was tested using long term monitoring data collected from laboratory columns in which five different biofilter configurations were studied over a period of 44 weeks. A multi-objective calibration with the balance of instantaneous ponding levels and event outflow volumes was implemented on the water flow module, and the Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency (E) values ranged from 0.82 to 0.95. The microbial quality module was tested using the effluent Escherichia coli concentration data, and the E values obtained for different configurations were between 0.46 and 0.68. The optimized parameter values agreed with those presented in literature. However, sensitivity analyses suggested that the model's prediction was not sensitive to all parameters, the explanation for which was hypothesized to be data paucity rather than model structural uncertainties. Model validation was also conducted by splitting the data into calibration and validation datasets. The results further reinforced the needed for more data for model calibration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1002
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2018


  • Biofilter
  • Escherichia coli
  • Faecal microorganisms
  • Microbial removal
  • Modelling
  • Stormwater

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