Lassonde professor contributes to study proposing sustainable alternatives for stormwater management

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York University Assistant Professor Usman Khan, from the Department of Civil Engineering, contributed to a paper on sustainable stormwater management technologies that has recently been published in the Journal of Water Management Modeling.

Usman Khan

In “Hydrological Efficacy of Ontario’s Bioretention Cell Design Recommendations: A Case Study from North York, Ontario,” Khan and his collaborators, Mantas Bacys and Thomas R. Bentzen of Aalborg University in Denmark, and York colleague Jit Sharma, critiqued the current infrastructures in place to manage stormwater runoff. With increasing urbanization and climate change impacts, they are no longer adequate to handle the rise in risk of floods in cities. The study proposes popular new sustainable alternatives to managing stormwater like bioretention cells.

“Currently, there is no universally accepted design guidelines for bioretention cells – local climatic conditions, soil types, urbanization levels all play an important part in determining the optimum design,” said Khan. “In this research, we use a statistical approach to optimize the design of bioretention cells for use in Toronto.”

While Toronto was used as a case study, the approach is generalizable to other locations.

Through Khan’s research, they discovered that bioretention cells can be successfully used to capture the majority of runoff from very extreme rainfall events if designed properly. The research led to the creation of new recommendations for the design of bioretention cells in Toronto to meet runoff control targets, as the current design suggestions are not adequate.

Khan is most excited about the integrity of sustainable infrastructure in stormwater management to meet the demands of the future.

“Sustainable infrastructure, like bioretention cells, will form an integral part of our stormwater management plans, especially with existing infrastructure in bad repair, increasing urbanization (so more runoff) and extreme events (due to climate change).”