University of Vermont

RAN: Redesigning the American Neighborhood Project

RAN swales

Best Management Practices (BMPs): Vegetated Swales

vegetated swale
Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

As the name implies, a vegetated swale is a planted technology, which serves to both infiltrate water and scrub pollutants. This is practically a free-form design, not unlike a rain garden, which can be fit onto most any landscape or scaled to manage a variety of runoff conditions. Vegetated swales can be designed with minimal impact and typically do not require extensive excavation. The principal issues involve failure or reduction in performance due to clogging with sediment and maintenance of biomass growth.

Typical Performance

Pollutant Approximate % Removal
TSS 81
BOD 67
Nitrate 38
TP 9
Hydrocarbons 62
Cadmium 42
Copper 51
Lead 67
Zinc 71

For more information, see U.S. EPA document 832-F-99-006, (1999)

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Last modified October 16 2009 10:31 AM

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