Bioretention Overview

Bioretention is a terrestrial-based (up-land as opposed to wetland), water quality and water quantity control process. Bioretention employs a simplistic, site-integrated design that provides opportunity for runoff infiltration, filtration, storage and water uptake by vegetation.


Bioretention areas are suitable stormwater treatment practices for all land uses, as long as the contributing drainage area is appropriate for the size of the facility. Common bioretention opportunities include landscaping islands, cul-de-sacs, parking lot margins, commercial setbacks, open space, rooftop drainage and street-scapes (i.e., between the curb and sidewalk). Bioretention, when designed with an under-drain and liner, is also a good design option for treating potential stormwater hotspots (PSHs). Bioretention is extremely versatile because of its ability to be incorporated into landscaped areas. The versatility of the practice also allows for bioretention areas to be frequently employed as stormwater retrofits.

Function Within Stormwater Treatment Train

Unlike end-of-pipe BMPs, bioretention facilities are typically shallow depressions located in upland areas. The strategic, uniform distribution of bioretention facilities across a development site results in smaller, more manageable subwatersheds, and thus, will help in controlling runoff close to the source where it is generated (Prince George’s County Bioretention Manual, 2002). Bioretention facilities are designed to function by essentially mimicking certain physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in the natural environment. Depending upon the design of a facility, different processes can be maximized or minimized depending on the type of pollutant loading expected (Prince George’s County, 2002).

MPCA Permit Applicability

One of the goals of this Manual is to facilitate understanding of and compliance with the MPCA Construction General Permit (CGP), which includes design and performance standards for permanent stormwater management systems. The permit and related documentation can be found online at Standards for various categories of stormwater management practices must be applied in all projects in which at least one acre of new impervious area is being created.

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