The Best Management Practice (BMP) water quality control known as a Retention-Irrigation System is a product of water quality technology and environmental activism. The goal of this control is to maintain pollutant effluent concentrations to pre-development levels. Clearly a lofty goal and nearly unachievable, the technology has numerous challenges. The main challenge is capturing and retaining a generous amount of the initial stormwater runoff from the site and then redistributing and infiltrating back on the site. In the 30 years of the technology’s implementation in Austin, many of the difficult design attributes have been flushed out. Some improvements in practice have been made, but further adaptations are needed to fully meet the non-degradation goal. The following analysis will cover the background, the evolution of designs, the pitfalls, and the potential for future designs that could be implemented to achieve non-degradation goals as well as water conservation benefits.
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