Water runoff? No way!

Recently, I got to go to D.C. and meet with representatives from the DDOE (the District Department of the Environment) to go over all the water strategies that we are planning to implement at the Gault Place site.  They offered some really great advice and having worked on this for the better part of last semester, it is super exciting to see that all the research, planning and designing that the team has been doing may ACTUALLY MATERIALIZE!

Here is the landscape plan of the Gault Place site:

Here is the home of the future bio-retention cells the Empowerhouse team has proposed for the street scape of the property:

Water enters into the cells through curb cuts and flows to an area planted with plants that are known to remediate heavy metals and toxins that vehicles usually leach on to the street.  The filtered water then seeps slowly back into the ground water supply and helps to alleviate runoff to local waterways.  Usually this rain water runoff would enter directly into the storm system, where it could lead to Combined Sewer Overflows that contribute significantly to the pollution in our rivers and streams.

Bio-retention system:

The rest of the site is also designed to slow down and collect water to reduce runoff.  Water from the roof will be channeled to a buried cistern on each property to be reused for irrigation of the lawn and vegetable gardens while permeable paved sidewalks and driveways will allow for more water infiltration into the ground than traditionally paved surfaces, thus capturing water more naturally and relieving the burden of runoff on local streams that often can result in flooding.

Above is the future site of one of the rain gardens that will be located on the property.  The rain gardens, located at the lowest point of the properties, infiltrate the remaining water that has not been captured on the site and slowly absorbs it back into the ground through plantings and layers of soil and gravel mix.

How have we been figuring out what to plant?  Well, we have been working with some Landscape Architecture folks at ValleyCrest Landscape Companies who have been helping to determine the best species of plant for each of these features.  They’ve helped us choose trees to plant, such as the American Hornbeam, and beautiful grasses and flowers, like switch grass and cardinal flower, that will not only help soak up and in some cases clean runoff water, but will also provide a beautifully landscaped yard for the future homeowners!

(Photos from my old school phone, drawings by Shannon Vermeulen and myself.)

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