Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engr. (M.S.E.V.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Mauricio E. Arias, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Taryn Sabia, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mahmood Nachabe, Ph.D.


Best Management Practices, Suspended Sediments, Low Impact Development, Green Infrastructure


In coastal urban regions, underground stormwater treatment units are suitable infrastructure options because they take less space where premium land is expensive. Even then, they should be accessible and ideally small enough to fit into existing stormwater networks. Since 2003, the City of Tampa and Florida’s Department of Transportation (FDOT) have installed 47 baffle boxes into the city’s stormwater pipe networks. Baffle boxes are underground stormwater treatment structures designed to capture sediments and floating debris. Since their deployment, many challenges regarding their practical sediment capturing performance was raised by the city.

The objective of this research was to evaluate the effects of rainfall, land use, and maintenance on the sediment trapping efficiency of the baffle boxes and identify solutions to enhance their performance. This was addressed through site visits, sediment accumulation measurements and analysis of historical and field data. The results of these measurements and analysis were then compared to rainfall intensity, catchment characteristics, size and type of the units. During the preliminary site visits and sediment measurements it was observed that most of the units located in the south of Tampa were inundated by backflows from Tampa Bay. Survey information collected from inspection crew members also showed that resuspension of trapped sediments frequently occurs in these units. Concerning operation and maintenance (O&M), it was indicated that units mounted with screens are costly and difficult to clean-out. Additionally, it was found that 80% of the units have very small trap inlets and lack the baffle structures needed to slow down and settle sediments.

Historical sediment measurements and O&M practices were analyzed to calculate the overall performance of the units. The analysis of the data determined the sediments captured, the resuspension rate, and yearly cost of maintenance for different types of baffle boxes. Rainfall intensity and land use and land cover (LULC) data for each catchment of the units was correlated to the performance of the units. The LULC data used impervious fraction and tree canopy area of the catchments to project sediment and leaf matter accumulation within the units.

This research study found that total daily rainfall intensity is a good predictor of sediment accumulation. Cleanout crews can use this relationship to conduct their work efficiently and to promptly react to occurring rainfall events. Thus, the prediction of sediments accumulated from rainfall events and the coordination of clean-out trucks can optimize O&M practices. It was also determined that large-sized (24-40 in) units and those with three chambers (baffles) perform better at trapping sediments. Thus, installing baffles in units within the large-sized ones can enhance their performance. The study also found that baffle boxes mounted with screens can individually take up to eight hours to cleanup which makes them costly and difficult. This can be detrimental for municipalities to follow up on their O&M practices effectively. Therefore, to alleviate the clean out complexity and reduce maintenance expenditures complementary practices such as bag filters need to be explored and implemented for trials