Portland Green Streets Concept in Semi Arid Lubbock, Texas.

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums SUSTAINABILITY & DESIGN Portland Green Streets Concept in Semi Arid Lubbock, Texas.

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    Jared Horsford

    In Lubbock, Texas, average annual rainfall ranges from 12-17″ per year, most of which falls in the summer months from May-Aug, and usually in very intense periods. In the urbanized environment, this has led to flash flooding in a semi-arid city, which, as a solution, constructed a multi-million dollar drainage system to get rid of this water. At the same time, plans are underway to construct a pipeline from a man-made reservoir that lies almost 100 miles away, at a drastically lower elevation. So that’s the setup.

    I am well-aware that Lubbock is not unique in this seemingly counterintuitive approach to stormwater management. However, to my knowledge, very little is being done here in the way of stormwater harvest, collection, and reuse.

    So…. I’m conducting a little research project in the frontage of my house between the sidewalk and the curb. In the style of some of the Portland street projects, I’m attempting to obtain city permission to cut my curbs to allow stormwater from the gutter to flow in and infiltrate. The reason for the question, however, is my curiosity about precedents. Does anyone know of this type of project going on in semiarid climates and, if so, does anyone have any structural or horticultural recommendations/advice. I am making it a test case, of sorts, to see how different soil treatments and plant materials “weather the storm” so to speak. Any ideas, suggestions, or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Roland Beinert

    I think your experiment sounds pretty cool. There are whole books on rainwater harvesting in drylands, including three volumes titled Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands by Brad Lancaster. The author lives in Santa Fe, NM, where rainwater harvesting has become fairly common, apparently. My sister is moving there soon, so I may ask her to gather info to satisfy my own curiosity.

    Vance W. Hall

    I am from Amarillo and would like to know more on this as well. I think the panhandle could benefit from this approach. Good luck in your endeavors.

    Chelsea Schneider

    I’ve designed several stormwater plantings in the Bend Oregon. (Oregon high desert = 12″ precipitation a year) The biggest challenge we have is most of our precip happens in the winter months. We have to irrigate the plantings in the growing season, which is counterintuitive to the purpose. But they do mitigate our gully-washers and are a great alternative to the previous preferred practice, drywells.

    To this end and because maintenance budgets are always tight, I used a largely native plant palette. We have a fair amount of plant material that will tolerate the seasonal inundation.

    Jared Horsford

    Thanks Chelsea! Here in Lubbock, we generally have relatively dry winters, with most of our annual precipitation coming in April-June, followed quickly by our hot and dry growing season. I’ve been looking at ideas for integrated stormwater harvest at the residential and municipal levels to maybe capitalize on this heavy rainfall early in the season and temporally redistribute it. I, too, am sold on the idea of using a largely native palette. It just makes sense. The biggest problem I’m encountering is restrictive city codes that favor traditional curb and gutter, coupled with public aversion to anything that looks “out of the ordinary.” Here in west Texas, people tend to love the status quo.

    However, the issue has just hit people’s pocketbooks for the first time. A few years back, the city built a multimillion dollar drainage system, and, this year, they hiked water rates by 40% to begin funding construction of a 100 mile water pipeline from a reservoir that — get this — is about 700-1000′ lower in elevation. So hopefully people will start becoming more receptive to the idea of alternate residential-scale solutions.

    Any ideas that you have used to leverage allowances for these alternate landscapes and street systems in the city codes? Also, any ideas you have to help the public buy into the idea. Oregon is far more open to “green” ideas than Texas, but any ideas are great to get the wheels turning!

    Adam Morman

    check out this product. It might be something to consider: http://www.rehbeinsolutions.com/technology/epic.html

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