Protecting Our Streams and Neighbors

In the past 100 years, one thing has stayed relatively constant while something else has changed dramatically.  The constant is rainfall.  Although some years are wet and some are dry, on average about the same amount of water is falling on Davidson as it was in 1912.  The amount of undeveloped land however has changed dramatically.

The result?  As more and more open space is converted to pavement, all of that rain water has fewer and fewer places to go.  Have you ever seen stories about homes in Charlotte that are in flood plains and you wonder why those crazy people ever built in the flood plain in the first place?  The truth is that when they built those homes 60 years ago, they weren’t in the flood plain, but as pavement prevents rain from soaking into the ground the creek levels get progressively higher to the point where the houses are now in a flood plain.

In addition to more development, much development today is denser than it used to be.  Lots are small, and the house and driveway takes up a high percentage of the lot.  So, when it rains most of the water ends up on the neighbor’s lot or pouring into a local stream with such velocity that the banks of the stream are eroded.

What to do?  Mecklenburg County has been undertaking some magnificent stream restoration projects where they put back the curves and plantings that have been removed by excessive runoff.  This fixes one problem, but it does not always get to the root cause.

More and more developments are implementing methods to keeping more rainwater on site.  Have you noticed all of the planting areas in the Northcross Shopping Center in Huntersville, or at Davidson Commons?  These areas are all designed to collect water from the parking lot and give it an opportunity to filter down through the earth rather than rush into the local stream or stormwater system.

Likewise, some home builders are installing rain gardens and other infiltration systems, either on individual lots are as collectors for a series of lots.  In our Davidson Springs neighborhood in downtown Davidson we’ve installed a level spreader at the end of our stormwater pipe.  This level spreader does just that: it gives stormwater an opportunity to spread out and percolate into the ground rather than be discharged directly into a creek.

Our our recently completed LEED certified home on Walnut Street in Davidson we installed an infiltration system.  This system features slotted infiltrators buried underground and covered with stone and high quality soil.  All of the gutters on the house are piped to this system, and the lot is graded so that any rain that falls onto the ground is directed to the infiltration system.  The result is that stormwater stays on the lot and filters into the ground rather than running on to the neighbors lot.  The infiltration area is also a great place for plants that like a little extra moisture.

Stormwater management is just another aspect of green building that positively impacts not only the home, but the environment around us.  Implementing a stormwater management system is something that can be done during new home construction, or after the fact as well.  Give us a call and we’d be glad to share our knowledge with you.

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