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And How to Recapture it. (On the Cheap)
Some water history.
At the turn of last century, Savannah, Georgia’s squares were not the lovely, lush parks they are today. In the early 1900’s, the squares were sandy lots, the centers of which sported an artesian well, sometimes bubbling and spurting six to eight feet into the air, providing water for the old horse-drawn pumpers to fight fires. Today, almost every lot in the United States’ largest Historic Landmark District is built out. The roads and lanes are paved even the squares have as much as 50% impervious cover in between the mature Live Oaks and masses of azaleas. In order to dig a well in a square now, you might have to go 35 to 42 feet down to hit water - an almost 50 foot drop in 100 years. This is considerable for a coastal city.
In little more than a decade Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado saw drops in their water tables as much as 100 feet. In the Central Valley of California, the water table has dropped 70 feet within a similar time frame. Each of these are high growth areas. Up to 30% of it may be attributable to irrigation demands for corn as an energy crop. Corn is a thirsty plant. Solutions are being developed to stem the loss of crop runoff - no tillage planting, high-energy yield crop choices with low water demand. Urban run off continues to be the major source of water pollution because current methodologies cost way too much.
Run off. NPDES Phase II admits what we do for it, is not working. Low Impact Stormwater Design means thinking Micro, instead of Macro. Thinking, “simpler.” Iterating nature. Solving problems where they occur, instead of relocating them in massive agglomerations where pollutants like heat*, dioxins, carbon dioxide, and the detritus of humanity poison our water while we flush it away, instead of allowing it to filter naturally into the ground - into the surface water recharge areas which feed our springs, artesian wells, streams, rivers, lakes and marshes. Where is it all going?
Water doesn’t just disappear. It relocates to one of four places: our atmosphere, through Evapotransporation (ET); our Surface Water - ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, the gulf, our oceans; our Surface Water Recharge Area, also referred to as soil water, the source of our springs and wells which serve to replenish our streams, rivers, and lakes - as does the rain. Because of that - both Surface Water and the Surface Water Recharge Areas are referred to as GREEN water. Essentially it is all recycled; and fourth, our Ground Water- pristine, like the Floridan Aquifer - It could take more than 200 years for a rain drop to travel there.
Gilman Paper Company, St. Mary’s, GA Employed up to 1100 workers, production capability 2.6 million pounds of paper per day.
Water, water everywhere...
Gilman Paper Company was family owned for around 70
years in St. Mary’s (Camden County) Georgia. The family no longer had an interest in running a pulp mill during an industry downturn. In 1999, they sold it to Durango, who ran it for a few years, filed bankruptcy, and closed the plant. Within two weeks of the closure, artesian wells started springing up in folks’ yards, driveways, and lots - because the water table recovered so rapidly from the enormous daily pulp mill withdrawal - so much so, that UGA Extension Agents were called upon to cap the wells all over Camden County.
1 of the top 10 Ecological Wonders of the World
A Study in Connectivity
The Great Okefenokee Swamp covers 700 square miles in Southeast Georgia and Florida. At the time of the Gilman Paper Company closing, it - like much of Georgia - was in the middle of a severe drought. Within a few months of the closing, the water level in the Okefenokee rose more than 6 inches, without compensating rainfall in the drainage area which feeds the swamp - according to a Fish and Wildlife Official. This connectivity was a major reason environmental groups did not want Dupont to mine Titanium on the Swamp’s Eastern side.
The Land of Trembling Earth
A 2300 Year Habit
According to Roger D. Hansen, noted water system historian from Utah State University, more than two centuries before Christ, Etruscan Engineers designed and built Rome’s first drainage and wastewater system - Cloaca Maxima. This system of covered concrete drains was large enough in some areas for a hay wagon to drive through it. It collected waste and stormwater through holes in the streets, with its final outfall into the Tiber River.
2 years of Construction
$11,000,000.00 Flood Control only - Zero Water Quality
Suppose instead of digging up the entire street, block after block, we only dig 30” out from the curb and down 5’. We build a flush mounted header curb on the asphalt side. Since the lateral utility lines are involved, a significant amount of this is hand work by someone trained to work around utilities. That person - or persons - would also need to be proficient in operating an air spade to protect the tree roots. Once that is completed, a non woven fabric is used to line the trench. Recycled concrete chunks from 6” to 10” in size fill in the first 4 feet. Then six inches of #57 stone follow, capped by 3 inches of #89 stone. Interlocking concrete pavers with half inch joints are installed, with #9 stone used to fill the joints.
The 10% Solution
For Flood Control and Water Quality
Allowing rain to return to the ground almost where it falls
An average 450 foot block will store 15,000 gallons on one side. This water will exfiltrate into our Surface Water Recharge Areas which feed our wells, streams, rivers, lakes and marshes. Water we have been flushing away, while polluting the bodies of water which carry it downstream. While the trench is open, municipalities could request the power company to install lines underground as well preventing future costly, overly aggressive tree trimming.
All this & 90% Savings too!
Flood Control AND Water Quality.
Typical Urban Street
This one is in Covington Kentucky.
Recapturing rain for surface water recharge storage
Each side of one block could be a Micro Contract which could be awarded to an underemployed person. A Master Contract could be awarded to an Engineering Firm who would be charged with the Utility Training, Air Spade, OSHA, and provide oversite where necessary. The advantages are numerous - being small, it allows a municipality to “put a toe in the water” - to try it on for size. To the adjoining residents or businesses - access is limited for a month or two, while keeping the street open and half of the parking available. Hydrocarbon eating bacteria will grow in the matrix. The Calcium in the concrete will serve to neutralize acidic Heavy Metals.
From Macro to Micro
The Paradigm Shifts
Our urban trees need access to oxygen and water. They are a critical component of an integrated stormwater management plan. According to Dr. Kim Coder from UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry, a 12 inch caliper Live Oak can optimally uptake 1200 gallons of water a day (and a 2” caliper Live Oak 6 to 8 gallons of water per day). This also explains why, when DOT builds a new road, using current stormwater management BMPs to compensate for the addition of impermeable surface, flooding generally increases, simply because there is no formula to adequately compensate for the loss of mature trees and corresponding rise in the water table.
Stormwater, Trees, Streets, Quality of Life
Lower Depth Profile
In 2008, EPA initiated procedures for the Post Construction Monitoring Component of NPDES Phase 2. This again is a great product, but inappropriate installation - sand is a growing medium. The ICPI has an excellent stormwater profile for interlocking concrete pavers - using #9 stone in which to bed these pavers and #9 stone (1/4” stone) to fill in the joints. This is one of the lowest maintenance requirements of the myriad porous pavers on the market. Leaves? No problem. Imagine...
SW & Traffic Calming.
Thank you for your Time!
Your questions/comments are welcomed. Contact: Chere Peterson President - Petrus UTR, Inc. President Elect - Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Society Phone: 912 233-1500 - Savannah Cells: 404 964-8700 or 843 817-3300 E-mail: email@example.com
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