The University of Utah Green Infrastructure Research Facility (GIRF) experiments with plant ecology, hydrology, and biogeochemistry of biorention systems. Despite the widespread implementation of green infrastructure, the ecological and hydrologic factors controlling pollutant sequestration by biorention systems are not well-understood in arid cities. To better understand pollutant sequestration by biorention systems in arid environments, this study examines the effect of vegetative treatment within bioretention systems on ‘stormwater’ pollutant concentration. Some of the questions this project aims to answer include:
- How does Utah’s arid environment affect the function of green infrastructure?
- What types of plant species thrive best in the Utah climate?
- Does the presence of more diverse plants in biorention systems improve water quality more than less diverse plots?
GIRF contains nine lined plots, planted in triplicate treatment. All the plots are connected by PVC piping that allows water to enter and exit each plot, contain one lysimeter per plot, and are entirely contained within the same system. GIRF’s contained layout makes it ideal for understanding mass-balance within the system. The following plant species are being tested:
- Echinacea purpurea (coneflower)
- Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama Grass )
- Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
- Monarda (Bee Balm)
- Penstemon strictus (Rocky Mountain Beardtongue)
- Potentilla (Cinquefoil)
- Ribes Aureum (Golden Currant)
- Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)
- Penstemon pinifolious (perennial herb)
- Elymus cinereus (Great Basin Wild Rye)
- Ribes alpinum (Alpine Currant)