A gentle rain can bring a sense of calm during hot summer days. However, you may be one of many landowners for whom any amount of rain brings the threat of flooding. In recent years, Atlanta and other low-lying areas seem to flood more easily as developers recklessly destroy the natural barriers that at one time held the rainwaters back.
Uncontrolled rainwater carries pollutants and toxins into the streams and underground water systems. Stormwater runoff overfills the sewer systems in cities and counties across Georgia, often causing widespread flooding conditions that dump the polluted water into supplies of drinking water. Federal, state and many municipal governments now require developers to utilize appropriate green infrastructure to reduce the amount of stormwater that finds its way into these systems.
A natural part of development
Green infrastructure involves a variety of options builders and developers can include in their plans with the goal of minimizing the damaging effects of stormwater on sewer systems and areas susceptible to flooding conditions. In most cases, the measures builders can implement are affordable, durable and even beautiful. You may have seen some of the following examples of green infrastructure in use locally:
- Rainwater harvesting systems that collect runoff from roofs and store it for later use
- Permeable pavements made of more porous materials that allow water to pass through it to storage reservoirs below
- Rain gardens, or bioretention cells, that fill shallow ground with plant life, which absorbs storm runoff and uses it for natural hydrology
- Sidewalk-level planter boxes that collect water that would otherwise stand on sidewalks and absorbs it to hydrate vegetation
- Bioswales, which are shallow, vegetated canals in parking lots and along streets, collecting water and allowing it to flow slowly and safely among the plants
- Roofs that have greenery to absorb rainfall so that it does not simply cascade off buildings and onto the unprotected ground
Many businesses and communities recognize that tree canopies are essential for capturing rain before it becomes a flood risk. Unfortunately, development often means eliminating trees that provide that natural protection. It may seem obvious to you that developers would take these simple steps to protect the delicate environment around them. Unfortunately, not every business or development is able or willing to comply with these options for containing stormwater runoff, and this places you at risk of having to deal with the dangerous and destructive stormwater floods.