Recent weather in the northeast region of the United States has consisted of several damaging storms. One of the biggest contributors to the damage is flooding. Flash flooding occurs when heavy rains run to the path of least resistance. Typically, the path of least resistance for rainfall is through the soil and into the underground water table, but over time development has prevented this from occurring as it should. When you look at our cityscapes you often see hard materials such as steel, glass, and concrete as shown in the image below. These hard surfaces do not absorb rainfall. Instead they allow the rain to run at greater lengths on the surface. When a series of these tributaries gather on the surface flash flooding begins, as well as the destruction.
In recent years many municipalities have been taking measures to deal with flash flooding. In metropolitan areas tax breaks have been provided for those who install a green roof on their properties. A green roof provides an area close to the building footprint that will retain rain water and release the water at a much slower flow rate, decreasing the chances of flooding. The theory behind a green roof is that it will compensate for the building footprint’s water retainage. This would not solve all our flooding problems, but it would help immensely. You still need to deal with the rainfall that lands on the buildings large façade and street level. These areas are managed by our storm water management infrastructure. However, in many of our country’s oldest cities, the infrastructure for storm water is the sewer system, and when flooding occurs this situation can cause additional problems. Many of our older municipalities small and large have implemented a tax in place where a property owner pays so much per square feet of impervious coverage (any surface in the landscape that cannot effectively absorb or infiltrate rainfall) they own. This is to 1) help finance the upgrading of storm water management, and 2) motivate property owners to implement storm water retention designs into their properties.
At JL Architects we recognize the impact storm water retention design can contribute to a community and are always looking for ways we can help your community.