The Solution

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  • There are solutions to these problems. We group those solutions under three categories: environmental site design, low-impact stormwater management, and a focus on urban/suburban revitalization.
  • Environmental site design means saving as much forested open space as possible when land is developed.
  • Conventional subdivision developments often look like this – the entire site is deforested, graded and covered with large lots, roads and cul-de-sacs.
  • An environmental site design subdivision looks like this. A large portion of the site has been saved as forested open space, in places that conserve the natural water supply. This development has the same number of lots as the prior conventional development, but the lots and roads are smaller allowing some forest to be saved. Studies have shown that these smaller lots sell for more money than the larger conventional lots in the prior example because purchasers will pay more to live near preserved open space. The development costs are also lower because it takes less length of road, water and sewer lines to serve the same number of lots. This is one of the many ways that environmental site design and low-impact developments can be good for developers as well as for our rivers and streams.
  • Environmental site design means that we should stop building costly roads that look like this. Often our local government standards require this, and need to be updated to give developers more flexibility for environmental site design.
  • Instead, we should build roads that look like this. Bass Pro Shops’ new store in Leeds, Alabama was developed with several environmental site design principles in mind. Bass Pro and its contractors designed an entry road that protected the existing trees right up to its edge and that drains rainwater off the road and back into the forested land around it. This was an effective solution for the river and lower cost for Bass Pro.
  • Bass Pro also tiered its parking lot. This enabled the developer to save half a hillside of trees from being graded for parking. It also saved Bass Pro Shops half a million dollars in grading costs. Again, developers can save money by using environmental site design principles.
  • One of the best examples of environmental site design in the Birmingham region is the new Hewitt-Trussville High School along the Cahaba. Grading during construction was minimized as much as possible. You can see here two layers of chain link fencing that protected trees on site. Rather than knocking down these trees to make equipment movement easier, the contractors left just enough room between the forest and the building to work their equipment.
  • The school – which straddles the Cahaba River – also has a significant stream buffer on either side of the river. Stream buffers are important ways to protect water resources when property is developed.
  • One of the most innovative features of the high school’s environmental site design is the “woodland parking” for faculty and seniors. This parking lot was designed around the trees. Faculty and seniors get these desirable parking spaces that are shaded and cool. Rain that hits the parking spaces rolls off into the forest surrounding each parking space and recharges groundwater.
  • The second solution for river restoration and growth is low-impact development storm water management – also know by its acronym “LID”.
  • Low-impact development means treating rain as a resource rather than turning it into a waster product called “stormwater.” LID means designing developments so that rain can infiltrate into the ground and recharge our drinking water supply. LID also means harvesting and reusing rain water wherever possible.
  • Whenever you see rainwater being treated like this, it is being turned into a waste product. This is not called a “storm sewer” for no reason. Conventional stormwater management strategies turn a God-given resource – rain -- into a polluted waste product, and are designed to get rid of it as quickly as possible.
  • But there are other ways of dealing with rainwater that use it as a resource. We can develop land in ways that allow rain to soak into the ground. Examples of these low-impact development methods are permeable pavements and bioretention facilities. Making pavement porous or permeable allows rain to soak into the soil and recharge groundwater. Methods range from porous concrete and asphalt to permeable pavers to concrete driveway and alley strips with vegetated areas in the center.
  • This schematic shows how porous asphalt can be used to make a parking lot into a reservoir that allows rainwater hitting the parking lot to be stored within gravel under the pavement and slowly soak back into the ground.
  • This picture shows what porous asphalt looks like. The new road in the background appears dry even though it’s raining, while the old non-porous road in the front has water ponding on top, running against the yellow curb and then flowing via a storm sewer into a river somewhere.
  • Permeable pavements are now being used in Birmingham. This driveway uses special pavers and a rock-underlayment engineered to allow rainwater hitting the driveway to soak into the ground.
  • Bioretention features also allow rainwater to soak into the ground. The many variations of bioretention – bioswales, rain gardens, etc. – are engineered depressions in the ground that give rainwater a chance to soak into the surrounding soils or be taken up by the plants. Bioswales also filter pollutants.
  • Bioretention features such as bioswales in parking lots are not ditches – they are carefully engineered to ensure that they work properly and allow rainwater to percolate.
  • We needn’t build ugly, hot, pollution-creating parking lots like this.
  • Instead, we can build them like this. This small bioswale in the parking lot at St. Vincent’s 119 off Hwy 280 is one of the first built in the Birmingham region. Building bioretention features in this small parking lot saved the developer $35,000 over the costs of a conventional stormwater management system.
  • The Bass Pro Shop in Leeds also has bioswales. Notice how the parking lot does not have curbs and gutters. Instead rainwater flows between the wooden parking stops and into this engineered depression. There, some of it is absorbed by the plantings, some of it soaks into the ground, and any excess is carried to a pond on site where it is reused for landscape irrigation.
  • Stewart Perry Company’s new headquarters on Overton Road has no gutters. Rain rolls off its roof, hits the stone catchment below and is either infiltrated or directed into a low-impact stormwater channel that mimics a stream. What doesn’t soak back into the groundwater is fed into a natural pond on-site that offers a wonderful amenity for wildlife as well as for Stewart Perry employees.
  • This naturalized stormwater channel runs through the center of Stewart Perry’s parking lot. It allows rain hitting roofs and the parking lot to infiltrate into the ground and be cleansed by plants such as cattails and iris.
  • Rainwater harvesting – both commercial and residential – is another low-impact development method.
  • Brasfield & Gorrie showed that LID methods can be used even on the tightest of urban sites. Brasfield & Gorrie’s addition to its headquarters on 7 th Avenue South in downtown Birmingham included a rainwater catchment system and underground cisterns.
  • The cisterns, which are oversized pipes, hold rainwater from the roof. The collected rainwater is then used for landscape irrigation.
  • More and more Birmingham residents and commercial enterprises understand that rainwater harvesting is a way to make use of a free resource while reducing their use of expensive treated municipal water for landscape irrigation.
  • The third solution for river restoration and growth focuses on revitalizing the urban and suburban areas in which we have already invested significant resources, such as publicly-funded infrastructure. The more we rebuild our existing neighborhoods and commercial areas, the less we will need to build new developments on the metropolitan edge and in the upper Cahaba watershed. These are cost-effective and equitable ways to meet our region’s growth needs and conserve our drinking water.
  • Think of all the dead strip shopping centers in our region. We, the public, have already paid for infrastructure to these sites – water lines, sewer lines, utility infrastructure, and roads are already in place to service redevelopment of these sites. We should take advantage of this existing infrastructure rather than grading forests on the urban edge for new developments that need costly new infrastructure investments. This example is from Nashville where a dead shopping mall was leveled and redeveloped as condos. Although the site is intensely urban and predominantly impervious, its developer successfully used LID features to infiltrate rainwater hitting these buildings and parking lots.
  • All the rain that hits these roofs and the impervious asphalt parking lot is channeled to porous concrete parking spaces in two locations, where it soaks into a reservoir and then into the ground via the bioswale behind the concrete parking bays. This project shows how – even on a tight urban site – a redevelopment project can use LID techniques.
  • The best thing about the solutions for saving the Cahaba is that they can also save money and make money for the developer.
  • In December 2007, EPA released a study of low-impact developments across the country – ranging from parking lots, to parks, to corporate campuses, to suburban subdivisions. In almost every case, the study found that using LID stormwater management techniques cost less than conventional stormwater management and so saved developers money.
  • Here is just one example where two subdivisions were compared. One subdivision graded and developed the entire site while using conventional stormwater management techniques – curbs, gutters, culverts, detention ponds, etc. The other used environmental site design principles and LID stormwater management techniques such as bioswales and reduced impervious surfaces. Developers of the Mill Creek subdivision saved money by minimizing grading and site preparation, by decreasing the lengths of paving, sidewalks, and public utility lines, and by avoiding expensive conventional stormwater management infrastructure. The stormwater management savings alone were 51% per lot.
  • There are many carrots to encourage local goverments, developers and the public to adopt LID stormwater management techniques and environmental site design principles. Developers can both save money in construction costs and make more money by creating more valuable developments. Cities can save money by reducing stormwater and flood management costs and by maintaining the value of the tax base. The public benefits through lower tax and utility expenditures and by enjoying more beautiful and satisfying places to live.
  • There is also a stick. EPA is currently working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to revise the five-year stormwater permits issued under the federal Clean Water Act to the more populated counties and municipalities in our state. These new permits will require local governments to have their own sediment and erosion control programs for all active construction sites. They will also require local governments to phase in programs to reduce stormwater pollution after construction is completed. Those municipalities, contractors and developers who are early adopters of LID stormwater management techniques and environmental site design principles will be ahead of this coming curve in regulation and will benefit accordingly.
  • Please contact the Cahaba River Society at 205-322-5326 if you would like to schedule this presentation for an organization, agency or business. We also can collaborate with developers and communities to explore these design techniques for specific projects, to help them be successful to meet goals for the developer, the community, and the Cahaba River.
  • The Solution

    1. 1. Solutions for River Restoration & Growth Environmental site design Low impact development storm water management (aka ”LID”) Focus on urban/suburban revitalization Beth Maynor Young There are solutions to these problems. We group those solutions under three categories: environmental site design, low-impact stormwater management, and a focus on urban/suburban revitalization.
    2. 2. Save as much forested open space as possible! Environmental site design means saving as much forested open space as possible when land is developed.
    3. 3. Conventional subdivision developments often look like this – the entire site is deforested, graded and covered with large lots, roads and cul-de-sacs.
    4. 4. An environmental site design subdivision looks like this. A large portion of the site has been saved as forested open space, in places that conserve the natural water supply. This development has the same number of lots as the prior conventional development, but the lots and roads are smaller allowing some forest to be saved. Studies have shown that these smaller lots sell for more money than the larger conventional lots in the prior example because purchasers will pay more to live near preserved open space. The development costs are also lower because it takes less length of road, water and sewer lines to serve the same number of lots. This is one of the many ways that environmental site design and low-impact developments can be good for developers as well as for our rivers and streams.
    5. 5. Environmental site design means that we should stop building costly roads that look like this. Often our local government standards require this, and need to be updated to give developers more flexibility for environmental site design.
    6. 6. Low Impact Road Bass Pro Shops Goodwyn Mills & Cawood Saiia Construction Spreadrite Organics City of Leeds Bass Pro Shops Leeds, AL Instead, we should build roads that look like this. Bass Pro Shops’ new store in Leeds, Alabama was developed with several environmental site design principles in mind. Bass Pro and its contractors designed an entry road that protected the existing trees right up to its edge and that drains rainwater off the road and back into the forested land around it. This was an effective solution for the river and lower cost for Bass Pro.
    7. 7. Tiered Parking Lot Bass Pro Shops Goodwyn Mills & Cawood Saiia Construction Spreadrite Organics City of Leeds Bass Pro Shops Leeds, AL Bass Pro also tiered its parking lot. This enabled the developer to save half a hillside of trees from being graded for parking. It also saved Bass Pro Shops half a million dollars in grading costs. Again, developers can save money by using environmental site design principles.
    8. 8. HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL Minimized Grading Davis Architects LBYD, Inc. Robert Marvin/Howell Beach & Assoc. Doster Construction One of the best examples of environmental site design in the Birmingham region is the new Hewitt-Trussville High School along the Cahaba. Grading during construction was minimized as much as possible. You can see here two layers of chain link fencing that protected trees on site. Rather than knocking down these trees to make equipment movement easier, the contractors left just enough room between the forest and the building to work their equipment.
    9. 9. HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL River Buffer Davis Architects LBYD, Inc. Robert Marvin/Howell Beach & Assoc. Doster Construction The school – which straddles the Cahaba River – also has a significant stream buffer on either side of the river. Stream buffers are important ways to protect water resources when property is developed.
    10. 10. HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL Woodland Parking Davis Architects LBYD, Inc. Robert Marvin/Howell Beach & Assoc. Doster Construction One of the most innovative features of the high school’s environmental site design is the “woodland parking” for faculty and seniors. This parking lot was designed around the trees. Faculty and seniors get these desirable parking spaces that are shaded and cool. Rain that hits the parking spaces rolls off into the forest surrounding each parking space and recharges groundwater.
    11. 11. Solutions for River Restoration & Growth Environmental site design Low impact development storm water management (aka “LID”) Focus on urban/suburban revitalization The second solution for river restoration and growth is low-impact development storm water management – also know by its acronym “LID”.
    12. 12. <ul><li>Low Impact Development </li></ul><ul><li>Rain as a resource, not a waste </li></ul><ul><li>product </li></ul><ul><li>Infiltrating rain to recharge ground </li></ul><ul><li>water and drinking supply </li></ul><ul><li>Harvesting rain for reuse </li></ul>Hunter Nichols Low-impact development means treating rain as a resource rather than turning it into a waster product called “stormwater.” LID means designing developments so that rain can infiltrate into the ground and recharge our drinking water supply. LID also means harvesting and reusing rain water wherever possible.
    13. 13. Whenever you see rainwater being treated like this, it is being turned into a waste product. This is not called a “storm sewer” for no reason. Conventional stormwater management strategies turn a God-given resource – rain -- into a polluted waste product, and are designed to get rid of it as quickly as possible.
    14. 14. Permeable/Porous Pavements-New & Retrofit But there are other ways of dealing with rainwater that use it as a resource. We can develop land in ways that allow rain to soak into the ground. Examples of these low-impact development methods are permeable pavements and bioretention facilities. Making pavement porous or permeable allows rain to soak into the soil and recharge groundwater. Methods range from porous concrete and asphalt to permeable pavers to concrete driveway and alley strips with vegetated areas in the center.
    15. 15. This schematic shows how porous asphalt can be used to make a parking lot into a reservoir that allows rainwater hitting the parking lot to be stored within gravel under the pavement and slowly soak back into the ground.
    16. 16. This picture shows what porous asphalt looks like. The new road in the background appears dry even though it’s raining, while the old non-porous road in the front has water ponding on top, running against the yellow curb and then flowing via a storm sewer into a river somewhere.
    17. 17. BIRMINGHAM RESIDENCE Permeable Driveway David N. Brush Landscape Architecture EXT Installation Belgard permeable pavers Permeable pavements are now being used in Birmingham. This driveway uses special pavers and a rock-underlayment engineered to allow rainwater hitting the driveway to soak into the ground.
    18. 18. Bioretention-New & Retrofit Bioretention features also allow rainwater to soak into the ground. The many variations of bioretention – bioswales, rain gardens, etc. – are engineered depressions in the ground that give rainwater a chance to soak into the surrounding soils or be taken up by the plants. Bioswales also filter pollutants.
    19. 19. Bioretention features such as bioswales in parking lots are not ditches – they are carefully engineered to ensure that they work properly and allow rainwater to percolate.
    20. 20. We needn’t build ugly, hot, pollution-creating parking lots like this.
    21. 21. BIOSWALE St. Vincent’s 119 Health & Wellness Ross Kelly Land Design Brasfield & Gorrie Instead, we can build them like this. This small bioswale in the parking lot at St. Vincent’s 119 off Hwy 280 is one of the first built in the Birmingham region. Building bioretention features in this small parking lot saved the developer $35,000 over the costs of a conventional stormwater management system.
    22. 22. BIOSWALE Bass Pro Shops Goodwyn Mills & Cawood Saiia Construction Spreadrite Organics City of Leeds The Bass Pro Shop in Leeds also has bioswales. Notice how the parking lot does not have curbs and gutters. Instead rainwater flows between the wooden parking stops and into this engineered depression. There, some of it is absorbed by the plantings, some of it soaks into the ground, and any excess is carried to a pond on site where it is reused for landscape irrigation.
    23. 23. ROOF RUN-OFF INFILTRATION Stewart Perry Company HKW & Associates South & Associates Bearden Services LLC Stewart Perry Company Stewart Perry Company’s new headquarters on Overton Road has no gutters. Rain rolls off its roof, hits the stone catchment below and is either infiltrated or directed into a low-impact stormwater channel that mimics a stream. What doesn’t soak back into the groundwater is fed into a natural pond on-site that offers a wonderful amenity for wildlife as well as for Stewart Perry employees.
    24. 24. LOW-IMPACT STORMWATER CHANNEL Stewart Perry Company HKW & Associates South & Associates Bearden Services LLC Stewart Perry Company This naturalized stormwater channel runs through the center of Stewart Perry’s parking lot. It allows rain hitting roofs and the parking lot to infiltrate into the ground and be cleansed by plants such as cattails and iris.
    25. 25. Rainwater Harvesting & Re-use Rainwater harvesting – both commercial and residential – is another low-impact development method.
    26. 26. Rainwater Harvesting Brasfield & Gorrie LBYD, Inc. Thompson Architects Brasfield & Gorrie Headquarters Brasfield & Gorrie showed that LID methods can be used even on the tightest of urban sites. Brasfield & Gorrie’s addition to its headquarters on 7th Avenue South in downtown Birmingham included a rainwater catchment system and underground cisterns.
    27. 27. Cistern Installation Brasfield & Gorrie LBYD, Inc. Thompson Architects The cisterns, which are oversized pipes, hold rainwater from the roof. The collected rainwater is then used for landscape irrigation.
    28. 28. Local Rainwater Harvesting Systems Birmingham residence rainbarrel Birmingham Zoo cistern More and more Birmingham residents and commercial enterprises understand that rainwater harvesting is a way to make use of a free resource while reducing their use of expensive treated municipal water for landscape irrigation.
    29. 29. Solutions for River Restoration & Growth Environmental site design Low impact development storm water management (aka “LID”) Focus on urban/suburban revitalization The third solution for river restoration and growth focuses on revitalizing the urban and suburban areas in which we have already invested significant resources, such as publicly-funded infrastructure. The more we rebuild our existing neighborhoods and commercial areas, the less we will need to build new developments on the metropolitan edge and in the upper Cahaba watershed. These are cost-effective and equitable ways to meet our region’s growth needs and conserve our drinking water.
    30. 30. Permeable Pavement Brasfield & Gorrie Thompson Architects Permeable Pavement Brasfield & Gorrie Thompson Architects Nashville Grayfield Redevelopment Think of all the dead strip shopping centers in our region. We, the public, have already paid for infrastructure to these sites – water lines, sewer lines, utility infrastructure, and roads are already in place to service redevelopment of these sites. We should take advantage of this existing infrastructure rather than grading forests on the urban edge for new developments that need costly new infrastructure investments. This example is from Nashville where a dead shopping mall was leveled and redeveloped as condos. Although the site is intensely urban and predominantly impervious, its developer successfully used LID features to infiltrate rainwater hitting these buildings and parking lots.
    31. 31. Porous Concrete and Bioswale All the rain that hits these roofs and the impervious asphalt parking lot is channeled to porous concrete parking spaces in two locations, where it soaks into a reservoir and then into the ground via the bioswale behind the concrete parking bays. This project shows how – even on a tight urban site – a redevelopment project can use LID techniques.
    32. 32. Saving the Cahaba = Saving Money Low-Impact Stormwater Management Cost Comparisons The best thing about the solutions for saving the Cahaba is that they can also save money and make money for the developer.
    33. 33. In December 2007, EPA released a study of low-impact developments across the country – ranging from parking lots, to parks, to corporate campuses, to suburban subdivisions. In almost every case, the study found that using LID stormwater management techniques cost less than conventional stormwater management and so saved developers money.
    34. 34. EPA COST COMPARISON STUDY – 2007 http://www.epa.gov/owow/nps/lid/costs07 Here is just one example where two subdivisions were compared. One subdivision graded and developed the entire site while using conventional stormwater management techniques – curbs, gutters, culverts, detention ponds, etc. The other used environmental site design principles and LID stormwater management techniques such as bioswales and reduced impervious surfaces. Developers of the Mill Creek subdivision saved money by minimizing grading and site preparation, by decreasing the lengths of paving, sidewalks, and public utility lines, and by avoiding expensive conventional stormwater management infrastructure. The stormwater management savings alone were 51% per lot.
    35. 35. There are many carrots to encourage local goverments, developers and the public to adopt LID stormwater management techniques and environmental site design principles. Developers can both save money in construction costs and make more money by creating more valuable developments. Cities can save money by reducing stormwater and flood management costs and by maintaining the value of the tax base. The public benefits through lower tax and utility expenditures and by enjoying more beautiful and satisfying places to live.
    36. 36. New Local Government Requirements On the Horizon from EPA <ul><li>Local government sediment & erosion programs for all active construction sites. </li></ul><ul><li>Local programs to reduce runoff volumes and prevent sediment pollution after construction is completed. </li></ul>There is also a stick. EPA is currently working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to revise the five-year stormwater permits issued under the federal Clean Water Act to the more populated counties and municipalities in our state. These new permits will require local governments to have their own sediment and erosion control programs for all active construction sites. They will also require local governments to phase in programs to reduce stormwater pollution after construction is completed. Those municipalities, contractors and developers who are early adopters of LID stormwater management techniques and environmental site design principles will be ahead of this coming curve in regulation and will benefit accordingly.
    37. 37. Collaborating for Quality Growth Please contact the Cahaba River Society at 205-322-5326 if you would like to schedule this presentation for an organization, agency or business. We also can collaborate with developers and communities to explore these design techniques for specific projects, to help them be successful to meet goals for the developer, the community, and the Cahaba River.
    38. 38. Photography Beth Maynor Young Cahaba River Society Hunter Nichols Ben Thomson Raymond Miers With the Generous Financial Support of … Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Hugh Kaul Foundation Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust Vulcan Materials Foundation Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Trust Curtis & Edith Munson Foundation World Wildlife Fund And our many donors & members Credits

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