Infrastructure Engineering - Research Publications

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    The influence of spatial arrangement and site conditions on the fate of infiltrated stormwater
    Poozan, A ; Fletcher, TD ; Arora, M ; William Western, A ; James Burns, M (Elsevier BV, 2024-02-01)
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    Quantifying the impact of the urban karst on infiltrated stormwater
    Poozan, A ; Burns, MJ ; Arora, M ; Western, AW (IWA Publishing, 2023-06-01)
    Urbanization alters the flow regime of streams, including increasing the frequency and magnitude of storm flows, along with reducing baseflows. An increasingly common management strategy is stormwater infiltration, which is thought to reduce surface runoff and recharge groundwater and thus restore lost baseflows to streams. Recent research has pointed to considerable uncertainty on the fate of infiltrated stormwater, particularly due to the presence of human-made underground infrastructure – e.g. sewer and water supply pipes and telecommunication cables. Such infrastructure is commonly housed in trenches partially filled with highly permeable material which can cause urban karst like flow conditions. We used a dynamic subsurface flow model (HYDRUS-3D) to predict the impact of the urban karst on the fate of infiltrated stormwater. The model was constructed with the presence of a sewer pipe situated between an infiltration basin and a stream. The model predicted that the impact of the urban karst on infiltrated stormwater increases with higher groundwater levels, and greater contrast between hydraulic conductivity of regional soil and gravel which surrounds the sewer pipe. Results suggest that it is important to consider the impact of the urban karst in cases where the goal of stormwater infiltration is baseflow restoration.
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    The influence of stormwater infiltration on downslope groundwater chemistry
    Arora, M ; Fletcher, TD ; Burns, MJ ; Western, AW ; Yong, CF ; Poelsma, PJ ; James, RB (SPRINGER, 2023-11)
    Stormwater infiltration basins have been used extensively around the world to restore urban hydrology towards more natural flow and water quality regimes. There is, however, significant uncertainty in the fate of infiltrated water and accompanying contaminants that depends on multiple factors including media characteristics, interactions with downslope vegetation, legacy contaminants, and presence of underground infrastructure. Understanding the influence of such factors is thus central to the design and siting of infiltration basins. An extensive field program was established to collect monthly data on ground water quality, including nutrients and major ion concentrations, in a bore network downstream of a stormwater infiltration basin in Victoria, Australia. The groundwater samples were analysed for temperature, pH, EC, turbidity, major ions (Na+, Ca2+, K+, Mg2+, Cl-, SO42-, NO3-, CO32-, HCO3-), NOx and heavy metals. The collected data were used to understand the origin and fate of water and solutes in the subsurface and their interactions with the soil matrix. The results revealed that Ca-HCO3, Na-Cl water types predominate in the study area, grouped in 3 clusters; shallow fresh groundwater in the vicinity of the basin (near basin), deep saline groundwater further downstream of the basin (near-stream) and a mid-section where rock-water interaction (Na-HCO3 water) through cation exchange control the chemistry of groundwater. The results also suggest that as the water moves downstream of the basin, it experiences significant evapotranspiration and concentration due to the presence of deep-rooted vegetation. The results suggest that while infiltration basins can remove infiltrated contaminants, the infiltrated stormwater can mobilise legacy contaminants such as nitrate. Overall, the efficacy of infiltration basins in urban regions depends substantially on the downstream vegetation, urban underground infrastructure and the presence of legacy contaminants in the soils. These all need to be considered in the design of stormwater infiltration basins.
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    An IUWM incorporated model to improve water supply reliability in intermittent and no service areas
    Mohapatra, SS ; Wu, W ; Tiwari, MK ; Arora, M (ELSEVIER, 2022-06)
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    Micro-computed tomography scanning approaches to quantify, parameterize and visualize bioturbation activity in clogged streambeds: A proof of concept
    Lakhanpal, G ; Black, JR ; Casas-Mulet, R ; Arora, M ; Stewardson, MJ (WILEY, 2023-05)
    Abstract Fine particle clogging and faunal bioturbation are two key processes co‐occurring in the hyporheic zone that potentially affect hyporheic exchange through modifications in the sediment structure of streambeds. Clogging results from excessive fine sediment infiltration and deposition in rivers, and it is known to decrease matrix porosity and potentially reduce permeability. Faunal bioturbation activity may compensate for the negative effect of clogging by reworking the sediment, increasing porosity, and preventing further infiltration of fines. Although both processes of clogging and bioturbation have received significant attention in the literature separately, their combined effects on streambed sediment structure are not well understood, mostly due to the lack of a standard methodology for their assessment. Here, we illustrate a novel methodology using X‐ray computed tomography (CT), as proof of concept, to investigate how, together, clogging and bioturbation affect streambed porosity in a controlled flow‐through flume. By visualising gallery formations of an upward conveyor macroinvertebrate; Lumbriculus variegatus as a model species, we quantified bioturbation activity in a clogged streambed, focusing on orientation, depth, and volume at downwelling and upwelling areas of the flume. Gallery creation increased the porosity of the streambed sediment, suggesting a potential improvement in permeability and a possible offset of clogging effects. We illustrate the promising use of X‐ray CT as a tool to assess bioturbation in clogged streambeds, and the potential role of bioturbation activity supporting hyporheic exchange processes in streambeds, warranting further studies to understand the extent of bioturbation impacts in natural systems.
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    Influence of Bioturbation on Hyporheic Exchange in Streams: Conceptual Model and Insights From Laboratory Experiments
    Shrivastava, S ; Stewardson, MJ ; Arora, M (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2021-02)
    Abstract Bioturbation occurs in streambeds by the action of a range of faunal species, but little is known about how it could modify the hyporheic exchange in streams. Previous experimental work investigating the effects of sediment‐biota interaction on exchange across the sediment‐water interface has been largely conducted in small mesocosms or infiltration columns that do not represent the lotic environment adequately. Therefore, the experimental findings from these studies may not be transferable to flowing water environments (e.g., streams). In this work, we first present a conceptual model demonstrating the causal pathways through which the sediment reworking and burrow ventilation processes (together referred to as bioturbation) could potentially modify the hyporheic flow regime. Next, to study the role of activities of faunal organisms in lotic environments and test some of the arguments presented in the model, laboratory experiments are conducted in re‐circulating flumes. The experiments involved investigating the modification of dune‐induced hyporheic flow due to the activities of a model bioturbating organism, Lumbriculus variegatus, following a control (without organisms) and treatment (with organisms) based experimental design. The sediment reworking activities such as surficial deposition of fecal pellets and burrowing by L. variegatus caused significantly higher hyporheic flux, longer mean residence times, and deeper solute penetration in the treatment flumes relative to the control flumes. We advocate that more intensive laboratory experiments and field investigations must be conducted to test the propositions put forward in the conceptual model and advance our understanding of the role of bioturbation process in fluvial ecosystems.
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    Modelling the interaction between vegetation and infiltrated stormwater
    Poozan, A ; William Western, A ; James Burns, M ; Arora, M (Elsevier, 2022-04-01)
    A major problem associated with sealing native soils with impervious surfaces in urban areas is reduced groundwater recharge. This in turn reduces stream baseflows which has serious implications for freshwater ecosystems. To address this problem, the use of stormwater infiltration systems is becoming increasingly common worldwide. There is, however, substantial uncertainty on the fate of infiltrated stormwater and its interactions with downslope vegetation. This study aimed to investigate the role of vegetation on the amount of infiltrated stormwater reaching the stream. A model using MIKE SHE was constructed, calibrated, and validated based on a real infiltration system which features extensive vegetation between the site of stormwater infiltration and the stream. We then used the calibrated model to predict the amount of infiltrated stormwater reaching the stream in the absence of vegetation. We also predicted the impact of infiltrated stormwater on the evapotranspiration downslope of the system. The results showed that the performance of the model was satisfactory, and the model captured the overall groundwater dynamic very well. The amount of infiltrated stormwater reaching the stream increased by about 17 percent in the absence of vegetation. The model also predicted that evapotranspiration would be 13 percent lower in the warmer months if stormwater was not infiltrated upslope. The results suggest that the choice of location of infiltration systems should consider the potential of vegetation to intercept infiltrated water and impact on achievement of the design objectives, which, in this case, included restoring baseflow. Where increasing the baseflows is not a priority, the increased evapotranspiration afforded by stormwater infiltration could provide important microclimate benefits.
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    Impacts of stormwater infiltration on downslope soil moisture and tree water use
    Western, AW ; Arora, M ; Burns, MJ ; Bonneau, J ; Thom, JK ; Yong, CF ; James, RB ; Poelsma, PJ ; Fletcher, TD (IOP Publishing Ltd, 2021-10)
    Abstract Infiltration of stormwater is a widely used strategy to mitigate the flooding and environmental risks that come from urban runoff and conventional urban drainage. An understanding of the fate of this infiltrated water is required for rigorous design. Principal design objectives are typically to restore more natural hydrology in order to protect receiving waters from pollution and hydrologic change. Without such understanding there is also a risk of unforeseen impacts on nearby infrastructure and urban vegetation. We sought to understand the pathways and fate of water from a stormwater infiltration basin. To trace water, we used a combination of water table monitoring and isotopic composition analysis in the infiltration basin, as well as in rainfall, soil water, the shallow groundwater, and in vegetation upslope and downslope of the basin. We also measured tree water use directly using sap flow sensors. The infiltration basin was shown to increase the availability of water downslope, allowing trees to maintain elevated levels of water use during dry periods with high energy demand. In contrast, water limitation upslope saw substantial seasonal reductions in tree water use. The soil water isotopic composition demonstrated significant differences from upslope to downslope, with downslope water being more reflective of rainfall, while the upslope water used by the trees was more depleted. The results paint a picture of stormwater infiltration being a significant source of lateral flow, while trees are a significant sink of lateral flow emanating from the basin. This finding suggests that stormwater infiltration could be used as a strategy to support the health and growth of urban trees. Urban trees have demonstrated benefits for human health and comfort, particularly in a warming climate. It also suggests that stormwater infiltration may not always recharge groundwater and provide baseflow in receiving waters, being instead taken up by vegetation. These findings should be considered in the siting of stormwater infiltration systems, to ensure that the objectives they were designed for are actually met.
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    Distribution of clay-sized sediments in streambeds and influence of fine sediment clogging on hyporheic exchange
    Shrivastava, S ; Stewardson, MJ ; Arora, M (Wiley, 2020-12-30)
    In this work, the deposition of clay‐sized fine particles (d50 = 0.006 mm) and its subsequent influence on the dune‐induced hyporheic exchange are investigated. Fine sand (D50 = 0.28 mm), coarse sand (D50 = 1.7 mm), and gravel (D50 = 5.5 mm) grains were used to form homogenous model streambeds; one control ‐ no clay input, and two treatments ‐ increasing clay inputs for each grain type. The results indicate that the clogging profiles of clay‐sized sediments may not be predicted accurately using the previously proposed metric based on the relative sizes of infiltrating and substrate sediments. Further, the depositional patterns vary with the initial concentration of clay particles in the surface water. The assessment of clogging profiles in coarse‐grained model streambeds also reveals a preferential infiltration of the clay particles in the hyporheic downwelling regions. The results from the dye tracer test suggest that the accumulation of clay particles altered the exchange characteristics in the treatment flumes. For each grain size, the treatment flumes exhibit lower hyporheic flux and higher median residence times compared to their respective control flumes. The dye penetration depths were lower in treatment flumes with fine and coarse sand compared to their respective control flumes. Interestingly, higher penetration depths were observed in treatment flumes with gravel compared to their respective control flume potentially due to the generation of preferential flow paths in the partially clogged gravel beds. The clogging altered the hyporheic fluxes and residence times in the coarse‐grained model beds to a greater degree in comparison to the fine sand beds. Overall, our findings indicate that the properties of both fine and substrate sediments influence the clogging patterns in streambeds, and the subsequent influence of fine sediment clogging on hyporheic exchange and associated processes may vary across stream ecosystems.
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    Sediment Reworking in Streambeds With Fine Sediment Deposits and Its Influence on Hyporheic Flow Regime
    Shrivastava, S ; Stewardson, MJ ; Arora, M (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2021-12)
    Abstract The mobilization and mixing of sediments by the activities of in‐stream fauna, referred to as sediment reworking, constantly modifies the hydro‐physical properties of streambeds. This sediment‐organism interaction has been increasingly recognized to influence the hyporheic exchange flows in stream ecosystems, particularly in low flow environments (e.g., during base flow). In this work, we advance the knowledge of sediment reworking process by studying its impact on hyporheic exchange flows in streambeds with fine sediment deposits. Laboratory experiments are conducted in re‐circulating flumes following a control (only fine sediments) and treatment‐ (fine sediments + organisms) based design. The experiments involve studying the interaction of model organisms (Lumbriculus variegatus) with fine sediment (clay) deposits, and its subsequent influence on hyporheic flow regime in homogenous streambeds with fine sand, coarse sand, and gravel as substrate sediments. We observe that model organisms burrowed extensively into the fine sediment layer, mixed the clay particles with underlying grains, and eventually exposed the substrate sediments in the treatment flumes. Consequently, the treatment flumes exhibited greater solute penetration depth, shorter residence times, and higher hyporheic exchange flux compared to their respective control flumes. The results also suggest that the modification of hyporheic exchange flows depends on the overall reworking of the beds that is, the interaction of organisms with both substrate material and deposited fine sediments. It is critical to comprehend the influence of streambed inhabitants on mass and energy exchange across the sediment‐water interface as it has implications on the overall quality of both stream and groundwater.