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Urban trees enhance water infiltration
Date:11/19/2008

MADISON, WI, NOVEMBER 17, 2008 Global land use patterns and increasing pressures on water resources demand creative urban stormwater management. Traditional stormwater management focuses on regulating the flow of runoff to waterways, but generally does little to restore the hydrologic cycle disrupted by extensive pavement and compacted urban soils with low permeability. The lack of infiltration opportunities affects groundwater recharge and has negative repercussions on water quality downstream. Researchers know that urban forests, like rural forest land, can play a pivotal role in stormwater mitigation, but developing approaches that exploit the ability of trees to handle stormwater is difficult in highly built city cores or in urban sprawl where asphalt can be the dominant cover feature.

A group of researchers from Virginia Tech, Cornell, and University of California at Davis have been investigating innovative ways to maximize the potential of trees to address stormwater in a series of studies supported by the U.S. Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program. The results of the studies were published in the November-December issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Virginia Tech scientists used two container experiments to establish that urban tree roots have the potential to penetrate compacted subsoils and increase infiltration rates in reservoirs being used to store stormwater. In one study, roots of both black oak and red maple trees penetrated clay loam soil compacted to 1.6 g cm-3, increasing infiltration rates by an average of 153%.

In another experiment, researchers created a small-scale version of the stormwater best management practice (BMP) under study by the three universities. This BMP includes a below-pavement stormwater detention reservoir constructed of structural soil. Structural soils are engineered mixes designed to both support pavement loads and simultaneously provide rooting space
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@agronomy.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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