• January 22, 2016

    PacTrans Technology Transfer Success Story 2015 #4: How Green is your Green Infrastructure? A Field-Scale Testing Facility to Investigate Efficiency of Roadside Stormwater Technologies


    Investigators: PI Meghna Babbar-Sebens (OSU), Arturo Leon (OSU)

    Project Type: Small Project

    Title of Original Research: Improving Sustainability of Urban Streets via Rain Gardens – How Effective Are These Practices in the Pacific Northwest?

    Research Description: Many small and large urban communities in the U.S. have undertaken efforts towards transforming their existing street systems into “sustainable streets” or “green streets” that incorporate multiple ecological, community, and mobility functions. Implementation of natural drainage systems have become popular roadside green infrastructure solutions aimed at improving environmental sustainability of streets, because of their ability to treat roadway runoff, filter out roadway pollutants, and prevent sewer overflows after heavy storm events. However, there is lack of data and understanding on the effectiveness of these practices in capturing and treating roadway runoff, especially during the establishment period and during the different seasons.

    Using PacTrans funds, this project collaborated with the Benton County, City of Corvallis, Oregon Water Resources Department, and Oregon-BEST, and multiple other partners to construct, instrument, monitor, model, and evaluate the effectiveness of bioretention practices during their establishment phase. Thus they constructed  the OSU-Benton County Green Stormwater Infrastructure Research Facility. This facility is an instrumented, semi-controlled, and three celled testing facility for green infrastructure that captures runoff from the Benton County Public Works transportation yard. Each cell enables field-scale testing of a roadside stormwater (natural or artificial) technology, and provides opportunities for near real-time monitoring and comparison with other technologies.

    Technology Transfer: This unique facility provides excellent opportunities for education and outreach, which is why PacTrans has selected this work to receive additional funding for technology transfer. Multiple stakeholders have contacted administrators of the facility inquiring about whether it can be used for programs focussed on K-12 and local community, and for field testing of new stormwater technologies. However, a well-developed long term plan is needed to address these opportunities. This additional funding will go to the following tasks:

    1. Development of education materials, and collaborate with University of Washington to collect initial data and apply for the facility to be Technology Assessment Protocol – Ecology (TAPE) certified.

    2. Development of a web-based monitoring portal that will be made available to the community for monitoring these rain gardens in real-time and measure their performance via an embedded modeling framework.

    3. Delivery of presentations to local stormwater utilities and water managers about the facility and research conducted at the facility.