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This fact sheet is one of a 15-part series on urban stormwater management practices.
Please refer to definitions in the glossary at the end of this fact sheet. Glossary terms are italicized on first mention in the text. For a comprehensive list, see Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) publication 426-119, “Urban Stormwater: Terms and Definitions.”
A wet swale (WS) is an engineered, best management practice (BMP) arranged in a straight line that is designed to reduce stormwater pollution. A WS consists of a shallow, gently sloping channel with broad, vegetated, side slopes and slow flows (see figure 1). Wet swales typically stay wet because the bottom of the swale is below the water table. This is done to encourage the growth of wetland vegetation, providing water quality treatment similar to a natural wetland. Thisstormwater treatment practice also functions as part of the stormwater conveyance system. Wet swales have a relatively low capital cost; however, maintenance can be is intensive and expensive when compared to other BMPs.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
March 5, 2020