Rethinking Storm Water Management

A stretch of asphalt on the UW-Madison campus after a rain; permeable asphalt on the left, typical asphalt on the right. (By Tristan Porto, CC)

UVa, the city and the county are all rethinking how they get rid of runoff, Tasha Kates writes in the Progress. Every time a new house is built, a new sidewalk is built, or a new chunk of land is paved, that many square feet of grasses, trees, and soil cease to exist to absorb rain. So it all runs along the man-man ground cover, from which it has to be trapped, channeled, and ultimately dumped somewhere. It’s an expensive process that’s bad news, environmentally-speaking.

That old and busted process is being replaced with the new hotness: letting storm water sink stay where it falls. Over a thousand feet of Meadow Creek, long channelled through underground piping, is now a stream again, where water can run into. The JPJ has a plant-filled flood plain to slow down and absorb runoff. The city and the county have plant-covered roofs, which absorb rainfall. Next year the Nature Conservancy will improve over a mile of Meadow Creek along Greenbrier Park, once again allowing the creek to overflow into the adjacent floodplain. And Albemarle is exploring using pervious paving.

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