Water Resources Management

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 1147–1166 | Cite as

The Effect of Geological Heterogeneity and Groundwater Table Depth on the Hydraulic Performance of Stormwater Infiltration Facilities

  • Andrea D’AnielloEmail author
  • Luigi Cimorelli
  • Luca Cozzolino
  • Domenico Pianese


Urbanization has led to a substantial change in the hydrological cycle of urban catchments. Increased runoff and urban flooding, decreased direct subsurface infiltration and groundwater recharge, deterioration of water quality are among the major effects of this alteration. To alleviate these effects, Low Impact Development (LID) practices have been frequently adopted for stormwater management. Among LID infrastructures, infiltration facilities are particularly challenging to design and model due to the considerable amount of uncertainties related to the hydrogeological configuration of installation sites. To date, analysis on how soil heterogeneity, groundwater table depth, and thickness of the unsaturated zone affect the hydraulic performance of infiltration facilities are lacking. To address this knowledge gap, a series of numerical experiments under transient variably water saturated conditions were performed for a hypothetical infiltration facility. Numerical simulations showed that i) infiltration rates increase considerably as the initial depth of the groundwater table increases, ii) the contribution of the bottom of the facility to the infiltration of water is generally higher than the sides, iii) the presence of a less conducting soil layer at a short depth from the bottom of the facility reduces infiltration rates dramatically, iv) the complete clogging of the bottom of the facility has a dramatic impact on the hydraulic performance, v) the stochastic heterogeneity of the soil controls the overall stormwater infiltration process through the facility, and the hydraulic performance may largely deviate from the case when heterogeneity is absent.


Stormwater infiltration facilities Geological heterogeneity Groundwater table depth Unsaturated zone Numerical modelling Low impact development (LID) practices 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest



  1. Armitage N, Vice M, Fisher-Jeffes L, Winter K, Spiegel A, Dunstan J (2013) The south African guidelines for sustainable drainage systems. Report TT558/13. Water Research Commission, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahiablame LM, Engel BA, Chaubey I (2012) Effectiveness of low impact development practices: literature review and suggestions for future research. Water Air Soil Pollut 223(7):4253–4273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bear J (1972) Dynamics of fluids in porous media. Dover Publications, Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Berardi U, GhaffarianHoseini A, GhaffarianHoseini A (2014) State-of-the-art analysis of the environmental benefits of green roofs. Appl Energy 115:411–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braester C, Dagan G, Neuman SP, Zaslavsky D (1971) A survey of the equations and solutions of unsaturated flow in porous media. First Annu Rep Project A10-SWC-77, 176 pp, Hydraulic Engineering Laboratory, Technion, IsraelGoogle Scholar
  6. Brunetti G, Šimůnek J, Piro P (2016) A comprehensive numerical analysis of the hydraulic behavior of a permeable pavement. J Hydrol 540:1146–1161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) (2000) Stormwater quality handbook, project training and design guide. Sacramento, CAGoogle Scholar
  8. Carleton GB (2010) Simulation of groundwater mounding beneath hypothetical stormwater infiltration basins. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5102, 64 pGoogle Scholar
  9. CEI (Comprehensive Environmental Inc.) (2008) New Hampshire Stormwater Manual. Volume 1: Stormwater and antidegradation. Concord: NH. Comprehensive Environmental Inc. & New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. WD-08-20AGoogle Scholar
  10. Celia MA, Bouloutas ET, Zarba RL (1990) A general mass-conservative numerical solution for the unsaturated flow equation. Water Resour Res 26(7):1483–1496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cimorelli L, Morlando F, Cozzolino L, Covelli C, Della Morte R, Pianese D (2016) Optimal positioning and sizing of detention tanks within urban drainage networks. J Irrig Drain Eng 142(1):04015028CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coffman LS (2002) Low-impact development: an alternative stormwater management technology. In: France RL (ed) Handbook of water sensitive planning and design. Lewis, Washington, D.C., pp 97–124Google Scholar
  13. Cooley RL (1971) A finite difference method for unsteady flow in variably saturated porous media: application to a single pumping well. Water Resour Res 7(6):1607–1625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. D'Aniello A (2017) The Flow Behaviour of Elemental Mercury DNAPL in Porous Media. PhD Thesis, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.
  15. D’Aniello A, Hartog N, Sweijen T, Pianese D (2018) Infiltration and distribution of elemental mercury DNAPL in water-saturated porous media: experimental and numerical investigation. Water Air Soil Pollut 229(1):25. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis AP (2005) Green engineering principles promote low impact development. Environmental Science & Technology 39(16):338A–344ACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dekker TJ, Abriola LM (2000) The influence of field-scale heterogeneity on the infiltration and entrapment of dense nonaqueous phase liquids in saturated formations. J Contam Hydrol 42(2):187–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Deutsch CV, Journel AG (1997) GSLIB: geostatistical software library and user’s guide, 2nd edn. Oxford university press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  19. Diersch HJG (2013) FEFLOW: finite element modeling of flow, mass and heat transport in porous and fractured media. Springer Science & Business MediaGoogle Scholar
  20. DoD (Department of Defense) (2004) The low impact development manual. UFC-3-210-10Google Scholar
  21. Duchene M, McBean EA, Thomson NR (1994) Modeling of infiltration from trenches for storm-water control. J Water Resour Plan Manag 120(3):276–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ferguson BK (1994) Stormwater infiltration. CRC PressGoogle Scholar
  23. FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) (1996) Urban Design Drainage Manual. Hydrologic Engineering Circular No. 22, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  24. Gelhar LW (1993) Stochastic subsurface hydrology. Prentice-HallGoogle Scholar
  25. Hantush MS (1967) Growth and decay of groundwater mounds in response to uniform percolation. Water Resour Res 3:227–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harbaugh AW, Banta ER, Hill MC, McDonald MG (2000) MODFLOW-2000, The U.S. Geological Survey modular ground-water model—User guide to modularization concepts and the ground-water flow process. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00–92, 121 pGoogle Scholar
  27. Harbor J (1994) A practical method for estimating the impact of land-use change on surface runoff, groundwater recharge, and wetland hydrology. J Am Plan Assoc 60(1):95–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hills RG, Hudson DB, Porro I, Wierenga PJ (1989) Modeling one-dimensional infiltration into very dry soils: 2. Estimation of the soil water parameters and model predictions. Water Resour Res 25(6):1271–1282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hsieh PA, Wingle W, Healy RW (2000) A graphical software package for simulating fluid flow and solute or energy transport in variably saturated porous media. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99–4130Google Scholar
  30. HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) (2003) The practice of low impact development. Office of Policy Development and Research. Washington, D.C. Report prepared by NAHB Research Center, Inc. Contract No. H-21314CAGoogle Scholar
  31. Hunt WF, Traver RG, Davis AP, Emerson CH, Collins KA, Stagge JH (2010) Low impact development practices: designing to infiltrate in urban environments. In N. Chang (Ed.), Effects of urbanization on groundwater (pp. 308–343). Reston: ASCE, Environmental Water Resources InstituteGoogle Scholar
  32. Huyakorn PS, Thomas SD, Thompson BM (1984) Techniques for making finite elements competitve in modeling flow in variably saturated porous media. Water Resour Res 20(8):1099–1115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. HYDRUS (2006) HYDRUS technical manual. Ver. 1.0. PC Progress, Prague, Czech Republic, 149 ppGoogle Scholar
  34. Istok JD (1989) Groundwater modelling by the finite element method. Water Resources Monograph, 13, American Geophysical Union, 2000 Florida Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 2000Google Scholar
  35. Kueper BH, Frind EO (1991) Two-phase flow in heterogeneous porous media: 2. Model application. Water Resour Res 27(6):1059–1070CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kirkland MR, Hills RG, Wierenga PJ (1992) Algorithms for solving Richards' equation for variably saturated soils. Water Resour Res 28(8):2049–2058CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Leverett M (1941) Capillary behavior in porous solids. Trans AIME 142(01):152–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Li H (2015) Green infrastructure for highway stormwater management: field investigation for future design, maintenance, and management needs. J Infrastruct Syst 21(4):05015001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Massmann JW (2003) Implementation of Infiltration Ponds Research. Final Research Report (No. WA-RD 578.1), Washington State Department of TransportationGoogle Scholar
  40. McDonald MG, Harbaugh AW (1988) A modular three-dimensional finite-difference ground-water flow model. Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations of the United States Geological Survey. Book 6, Modeling techniques; chapter A1, U.S. Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  41. MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) (1998) Maryland stormwater design manual. Center for Watershed Protection, AnnapolisGoogle Scholar
  42. Minnesota Stormwater Steering Committee (2005) The Minnesota Stormwater Manual. Minnesota Pollution Control AgencyGoogle Scholar
  43. Moscrip AL, Montgomery DR (1997) Urbanization, flood frequency and salmon abundance in Puget lowland streams. J Am Water Resour Assoc 33(6):1289–1297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mualem Y (1976) A new model for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated porous media. Water Resour Res 12(3):513–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Newcomer ME, Gurdak JJ, Sklar LS, Nanus L (2014) Urban recharge beneath low impact development and effects of climate variability and change. Water Resour Res 50:1716–1734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nimmer MA (2008) Water table mounding beneath stormwater infiltration basins. MSc Thesis, Biological Systems Engineering Department, University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA, 141 ppGoogle Scholar
  47. Nimmer M, Thompson A, Misra D (2009) Water table mounding beneath stormwater infiltration basins. Environ Eng Geosci 15(2):67–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Olea RA (1999) Geostatistics for engineers and earth scientists. Springer Science & Business MediaGoogle Scholar
  49. PGCo (Prince George’s County) (1999) Low-impact development hydrologic analysis. Department of Environmental Resources, Prince George’s County, MarylandGoogle Scholar
  50. Price K (2011) Effects of watershed topography, soils, land use, and climate on baseflow hydrology in humid regions: a review. Prog Phys Geogr 35(4):465–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rathfelder K, Abriola LM (1994) Mass conservative numerical solutions of the head-based Richards equation. Water Resour Res 30(9):2579–2586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Richards LA (1931) Capillary conduction of liquids through porous mediums. J Appl Phys 1(5):318–333Google Scholar
  53. Šimůnek J (2006) Modeling water flow and contaminant transport in soils and groundwater using the HYDRUS computer software packages. International Groundwater Modeling Center, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, pp 12–28Google Scholar
  54. Sudicky EA (1986) A natural gradient experiment on solute transport in a sand aquifer: spatial variability of hydraulic conductivity and its role in the dispersion process. Water Resour Res 22(13):2069–2082CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Thompson A, Nimmer M, Misra D (2010) Effects of variations in hydrogeological parameters on water-table mounding in sandy loam and loamy sand soils beneath stormwater infiltration basins. Hydrogeol J 18(2):501–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thoms RB, Johnson RL, Healy RW (2006) User’s guide to the Variably Saturated Flow (VSF) process to MODFLOW (No. 6-A18)Google Scholar
  57. Thomson NR (1990) 2DUSAT-user's guide and documentation. University of Waterloo, WaterlooGoogle Scholar
  58. USEPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) (2000) Low impact development (LID). A literature review. Washington, D.C: Office of Water. EPA-841-B-00-005Google Scholar
  59. USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) (1999) The quality of our nation’s waters-nutrients and pesticides. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1225, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VirginiaGoogle Scholar
  60. van Genuchten MT (1980) A closed-form equation for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44(5):892–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Vauclin M, Khanji D, Vachaud G (1979) Experimental and numerical study of a transient, two-dimensional unsaturated-saturated water table recharge problem. Water Resour Res 15(5):1089–1101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Washington State Department of Ecology (2001) Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington. Publication 99–13, Olympia, WAGoogle Scholar
  63. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) (2004) Infiltration basin standard 1003. WDNR, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  64. Yang Z, Zandin H, Niemi A, Fagerlund F (2013) The role of geological heterogeneity and variability in water infiltration on non-aqueous phase liquid migration. Environ Earth Sci 68(7):2085–2097CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Naples Federico IINapoliItaly
  2. 2.Department of Engineering, Centro Direzionale di NapoliParthenope University of NaplesNapoliItaly

Personalised recommendations