2006-12-11, 10:48

Environmentally friendly drainage systems

By: Jonathan Groner
Developers who follow "new urbanism" principles are relying more and more on "low-impact" drainage systems that use fewer pipes and rely on natural mechanisms to drain water from the land, according to an article in the December issue of New Urban News, now online.

The article, by Philip Langdon, says that recently, "environmental activists have argued that rain should be handled in a more natural fashion — through 'rain gardens,' bioswales, and other ecological features -- instead of relying heavily on underground pipes and other conventional engineering mechanisms. A growing number of new urbanists are moving toward this ecological approach.''

Developments in the Southeastern United States are using this principle. The article points specifically to Woodsong, a 22-acre Traditional Neighborhood Development in Shallotte, N.C., (near the coast, not far from Myrtle Beach, S.C.), in which developer Buddy Milliken is using natural methods of handling rainwater.

According to the article, rain from roofs ''may be captured in cisterns or directed into rain gardens -- mild depressions filled with natural material that absorbs the water and gives it time to percolate into the soil. 'These are very, very simple things,' says Milliken.''

Again, it appears as if environmentally sensitive growth and the "new urbanism" sometimes go hand in hand. It would be interesting to understand the full array of reasons for this being the case.

The full article can be found at http://www.newurbannews.com/LowImpactDec06.html.

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