Enhancement and Application of the Minnesota Dry Swale Calculator

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  05/11/2016


Roadside drainage ditches (roadside grassed swales) typically receive runoff directly from the road and water is infiltrated over the side slope of the ditch, similar to a filter strip. Water that runs off the side slopes then has a further opportunity to infiltrate as it flows down the center of the ditch. This research focuses on the volume reduction performance of grassed drainage ditches or swales by infiltration. A total of 32 tests were performed during three seasons in four different highways maintained by MnDOT in the Twin Cities metro area. The field-measured saturated hydraulic conductivities (Ksat) correspond to hydrologic soil group A, even though the soil textures indicated correspondence to hydrologic soils groups A, B and C. This means that the infiltration performance is better than expected for these types of soils. In addition, the trend was to have more infiltration when the saturated hydraulic conductivity was higher and for a greater side slope length, as expected. A coupled overland flow-infiltration model that accounts for shallow concentrated flow has been developed. The predicted infiltration loss has been compared with the actual infiltration loss determined from the monitored field tests. In this manner, the validity of the model as well as the associated soil hydraulic and surface geometry parameters have been evaluated. Using the coupled infiltration-overland flow model, multiple scenarios with sensitivity analyses have been computed, and the results have been used to generate a simplified calculator to estimate the annual infiltration performance of a grassed roadside drainage ditch.

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