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Simulation of the hydraulic performance of highway filter drains through laboratory models and stormwater management tools


Road drainage is one of the most relevant assets in transport infrastructure due to its inherent influence on traffic management and road safety. Highway filter drains (HFDs), also known as “French Drains”, are the main drainage system currently in use in the UK, throughout 7000 km of its strategic road network. Despite being a widespread technique across the whole country, little research has been completed on their design considerations and their subsequent impact on their hydraulic performance, representing a gap in the field. Laboratory experiments have been proven to be a reliable indicator for the simulation of the hydraulic performance of stormwater best management practices (BMPs). In addition to this, stormwater management tools (SMT) have been preferentially chosen as a design tool for BMPs by practitioners from all over the world. In this context, this research aims to investigate the hydraulic performance of HFDs by comparing the results from laboratory simulation and two widely used SMT such as the US EPA’s stormwater management model (SWMM) and MicroDrainage®. Statistical analyses were applied to a series of rainfall scenarios simulated, showing a high level of accuracy between the results obtained in laboratory and using SMT as indicated by the high and low values of the Nash-Sutcliffe and R 2 coefficients and root-mean-square error (RMSE) reached, which validated the usefulness of SMT to determine the hydraulic performance of HFDs.

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The laboratory research was part of a wider research project funded by the company Carnell Group Services Ltd. Daniel Jato-Espino’s research internship at Coventry University and its participation in the research that led to this article was jointly funded by the CAWR, Coventry University and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the research projects RHIVU (Ref. BIA2012-32463) and SUPRIS-SUReS (Ref. BIA2015-65240-C2-1-R MINECO/FEDER, UE), financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness with funds from the State General Budget (PGE) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). A further acknowledgement was given to XP Solutions for providing a licence to use MicroDrainage®.

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Correspondence to Luis A. Sañudo-Fontaneda.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Sañudo-Fontaneda, L.A., Jato-Espino, D., Lashford, C. et al. Simulation of the hydraulic performance of highway filter drains through laboratory models and stormwater management tools. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 19228–19237 (2018).

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  • Highway filter drains (HFDs)
  • Low impact development (LID)
  • Rainfall-runoff simulation
  • Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)
  • Transport infrastructure
  • Water sensitive urban design (WSUD)