Infiltration: Sizing and modeling

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Drainage timeDetailsUnderdrainInfiltrationInfiltration: TestingSelect BMP typeBioretention: Sizing
This is an image map; clicking on components will load the appropriate article.
  • To calculate the require depth of an infiltration facility in a specified footprint area...
  • To calculate the required footprint area of an infiltration facility with a known depth constraint....
  • To calculate the infiltration time of ponded water on the surface of a facility footprint...
  • To calculate the drawdown timeThe period between the maximum water level and the minimum level (dry weather or antecedent level). of an underground infiltration facility...

The sizing calculations require that most of the following parameters be known or estimated. The exceptions are the depth (d) and Permeable area (P), as only one of these is required to find the other. Note that some of these parameters are limited:

  1. The maximum total depth will be limited by construction practices i.e. usually ≤ 2 m.
  2. The maximum total depth may be limited by the conditions underground e.g. the groundwater or underlying geology/infrastructure.
  3. The minimum total depth may be limited by the need to support vegetation i.e. not < 0.6 m.
  4. Green roofs, absorbent landscapes and permeable paving often receive very little flow from other surfaces, so that the I/P ratioThe ratio of the catchment (impervious area) to the footprint area of the receiving BMP (pervious area). is close to 1.
  5. Infiltration trenches, chambers and bioretention have a maximum recommended I/P ratioThe ratio of the catchment (impervious area) to the footprint area of the receiving BMP (pervious area). of 20.
Inputs
Symbol Units Parameter
D hrs Duration of design storm (for MOECC volume based caclulations set to 1)
i mm/hr Intensity of design storm (for MOECC volume based calculations use whole storm depth (link to map))
q mm/hr Infiltration coefficient of the underlying native soilThe natural ground material characteristic of or existing by virtue of geographic origin., calculated from measured infiltration rate and applied safety factor
n - Porosity, as measured (or default to 0.35 for all aggregatesA broad category of particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates, and available in various particulate size gradations.).
*Note: For systems that have significant storage in clear open chambers, an effective porosity value (n') may be estimated for the whole installation and used in the calculations below. Effective porosity will vary according to the geometry of the storage chambers, so advice should be sought from product manufacturers. Permit applications should include the basis for n' estimates.
I m2 Impermeable area i.e. catchmentThe land draining to a single reference point (usually a structural BMP); similar to a subwatershed, but on a smaller scale.
d m depth of infiltration facility or BMPBest management practice. State of the art methods or techniques used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of wet weather flow. BMPs include: source, conveyance and end-of-pipe controls.
P m2 Permeable area i.e. footprint area of the facility or BMPBest management practice. State of the art methods or techniques used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of wet weather flow. BMPs include: source, conveyance and end-of-pipe controls.
K mm/hr Infiltration coefficient of the filter mediaThe engineered soil component of bioretention cell or dry swale designs, typically with a high rate of infiltration and designed to retain contaminants through filtration and adsorption to particles. or fill used in the infiltration facility

This spreadsheet tool has been set up to perform all of the calculations shown below
Download .xlsx calculation tool

To calculate the required depth, where the area of the facility is constrained (3D)

In some very constrained sites, the surface area of the BMPBest management practice. State of the art methods or techniques used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of wet weather flow. BMPs include: source, conveyance and end-of-pipe controls. may be limited, in this case the required depth of cell or trench can be calculated: \[d=a[e^{\left ( -bD \right )} -1]\] Where \(a=\frac{P}{x}-\frac{i I}{P q}\) and \(b=\frac{xq}{nP}\)

(The rearrangement to calculate the required footprint area of the facility for a given depth using three dimensions of underground infiltration is not available at this time. Elegant submissions are invited.)

To calculate the required depth, where the area of the facility is constrained (1D)

In some very constrained sites, the surface area of the BMPBest management practice. State of the art methods or techniques used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of wet weather flow. BMPs include: source, conveyance and end-of-pipe controls. may be limited, in this case the required depth of cell or trench can be calculated. Note that in most cases the results of this calculation will be very similar to those of the above equation using 3D infiltrationThe slow movement of water into or through a soil or drainage system.Penetration of water through the ground surface.. \[d=\frac{D\left[\left( \frac{I}{P} \right )i-q \right]}{n}\]

To calculate the require facility area or footprint where the depth is constrained (1D)

In many locations throughout Ontario, there may be limited depth of soil available into which stormwater may be infiltrated. In this case the required storage needs to be distributed more widely across the landscape. The overall are of BMPBest management practice. State of the art methods or techniques used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of wet weather flow. BMPs include: source, conveyance and end-of-pipe controls. required can be calculated\[P=\frac{IiD}{nd+qD}\]

Time for infiltration of surface ponded water

The following equation assumes that infiltration occurs primarily through the footprint of the facility. It is best applied to calculate the limited duration ponding on the surface of bioretention cells, bioswales and enhanced grass swales. To calculate the time (t) to fully drain the facility through the footprint area only\[t=\frac{d}{K}\]

Drawdown timeThe period between the maximum water level and the minimum level (dry weather or antecedent level). to empty facility

Three footprint areas of 9 m2.
From left to right x = 12 m, x = 14 m, and x = 16 m

The target drawdown time for the internal storage of an infiltration facility is between 48-72 hours.
For some geometries (e.g. particularly deep facilities or linear facilities), it preferable to account for lateral infiltrationThe slow movement of water into or through a soil or drainage system.Penetration of water through the ground surface.. The 3D equation make use of the hydraulic radius (P/x), where x is the perimeter (m) of the facility.
Maximizing the perimeter of the facility directs designers towards longer, linear shapes such as infiltration trenches and bioswales. To calculate the time (t) to fully drain the facility\[t=\frac{nP}{qx}ln\left [ \frac{\left (d+ \frac{P}{x} \right )}{\left(\frac{P}{x}\right)}\right]\]