Infiltration rates of green infrastructure curb-cut basins: finding a balance between functionality and aesthetics

Samantha K. Swartz and Thomas Meixner

Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of Arizona

In arid regions, sustainable water management practices are critical for a future under climate change. Several neighborhoods in Tucson, Arizona have implemented green infrastructure designs in order to collect the untapped, renewable resource of rainwater. Neighborhood-scale green infrastructure in the form of right-of-way rainwater-harvesting basins successfully capture polluted storm runoff and create appreciable green spaces.

However, the maintenance of curb-cut basins has been left to nearby homeowners, and after almost a decade, some basins show signs of neglect. Little is understood about how continued upkeep affects the function of a rainwater-harvesting basin. It appears that a degraded basin cannot properly capture rainwater, as well as being an eyesore for nearby residents. This presentation will assess how volunteer homeowner maintenance influences the functionality of Tucson’s green infrastructure, as well as make recommendations to the City of Tucson for basin maintenance. Infiltration rates – measured with an air permeameter - will serve as a metric for basin function, while a qualitative analysis of the basin’s appearance will gauge the apparent homeowner care. The results found that basins in fair condition and poor condition tended to have a statistically significant increase in average saturated hydraulic conductivity. Overall, well- maintained basins underperformed relative to unkempt ones.

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