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Aquablox – a viable alternative to drainage gravel

AquaBlox with a 95% void.

AquaBlox with a 95% void.

When filling a trench or building an underground cistern, there are a few options: drainage gravel sporting a 33% void or a plastic modular system with a 95% void.

While seeking maximum storage potential, drainage gravel just won’t cut it.

Luckily, Atlantis manufactures a plastic modular system called D-Raintank and sold through a partner vendor named AquaScape Inc who calls them AquaBlox. There are two sizes – small and large and are available from the local Ewing Irrigation store or available in bulk if a project needs it.

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Designing an infiltration trench

Eventual design from a Rainwater Harvesting book.

Eventual design from a Rainwater Harvesting book.

If you have been following along recently, you will have learned that Rainwater is the fountain of life, that you have the ability to Reduce Urban Runoff. The City of Santa Monica has a program designed specifically to Capture Urban Runoff with a guide and a worksheet to build the best rainwater capturing system for your site. You will heave learned that drainage gravel takes up considerable space in the ground, perhaps there are better options available?

“Whether you have a gardening green thumb or solar panels on your roof, capturing rainwater at home is the next logical step towards our natural resource independence.”

Our latest article in this series discussed placing a rainwater infiltration basin in an area away from underground utilities, on or near current drainage piping and away from high trafficked areas. With every project it is a good idea to draw up some design plans which we can utilize to properly build our system.

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The Original Residential Recycled Water Fill Station Closes for Expansion Project

DSRSD Recycled Water Fill Station

DSRSD Recycled Water Fill Station

On Tuesday, December 6th 2016, Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) awarded a contract to upgrade their recycled water facility to produce more recycled water. This project will increase plant production by 70%, leading to an increase from 9.7 MGD (million gallons a day) to 16.2 MGD. Work is scheduled to begin in January 2017 and last 18 months until the fall of 2018. Continue reading

How to: Where to Build a Rainwater Infiltration Basin

In our article titled “Why do we talk about rainwater harvesting?”,  8 principles of rainwater harvesting are discussed, as noted from the book titled “Rainwater Harvesting For Drylands and Beyond” written by Brad Lancaster.

These principles are:

  • Begin with Long and Thoughtful Observation
  • Start at the Top – or Highpoint – of Your Watershed and Work Your Way Down
  • Start Small and Simple
  • Spread and Infiltrate the Flow of Water
  • Always Plan for an Overflow Route, and Manage That Overflow Water as Resource
  • Maximize Living and Organic Groundcover
  • Maximize Beneficial Relationships and Efficiency by ‘Stacking Functions’
  • Continually Reassess Your System: The ‘Feedback Loop’

These principles were put to use to find the best place on my property to build an infiltration basin.

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How much water does drainage gravel displace?

Drainage gravel

Drainage gravel

All the guides I have read about building drainage trenches have all said to use drainage rock or gravel as filler. There are other options available on the market, such as a plastic matrix media, but using rock chips or rounded river rock appears to be the most common solution.

But how much space does that rock take up? How much volume of water would I lose?

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Capturing Urban Runoff at Home – Part 2

ur_worksheetFirst part of this series covers different design ideas for handling urban runoff on single family, multi-family and commercial developments. This is part 2.

Continuing from the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Management Program, this section covers their worksheet for a variety of construction activity or for voluntary participation.

Check with your local city to determine their stormwater treatment requirements on new or redeveloped construction. In some cases, changing 2,500 sq ft of pervious ground to 2,500 sq ft of impervious ground can trigger the need for stormwater treatment construction at the job site. The Federal Clean Water Act, enforced by the State Regional Water Boards mandates this requirement. In many cases, a regional “Municipal Regional Permit” will hold the design requirements for following through.

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Capturing Urban Runoff at Home – Part 1

City of Santa Monica Urban Runoff Management Program

City of Santa Monica URMP

In the southern California city known for its nice beaches and celebrity homes, Santa Monica has an Urban Runoff Management Program aimed to reducing runoff from polluting Santa Monica Bay.  In a city Ordinance Chapter 7.10 that was designed to reduce 0.75″ of rainfall leaving all “impermeable surfaces of all newly developed parcels within the City. … also specifies guidelines for existing properties to reduce the level of contaminants that are carried by urban runoff into the Bay.”

In their Urban Runoff Management Program brochure, they expand upon Best Management Practices for reducing urban runoff pollution. Information includes “increasing the percentage of permeable surfaces and landscaped areas by”:

  1. porous materials that will increase the amount of runoff that seeps into the ground, rather than being carried into storm drains
  2. natural drainage
  3. filtration pits
  4. swales, berms, green strip filters, gravel beds and french drains.

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Reducing Urban Runoff

Oil runoff into a storm drain.

Oil runoff into a storm drain.

Every time it rains, water is always seen running down street gutters, into storm basins and eventually flowing back to the ocean. Carrying away pollution and nutrients from our landscapes.

Businesses and government organizations have been working to reduce urban run-off and it is time to homeowners to join the effort and help the cause. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. Continue reading

Rainwater – The Fountain of Life

Credit: D&S McSpadden

Credit: D&S McSpadden

As we’ve learned about the growth potential associated with recycled water, rainwater has its own magical attributes too.

“Despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains.” – Unknown

A gift from the heavens and responsible for all life on the planet, what is so special about rainwater that you won’t find in drinking water or recycled water? Lets analyze the three.

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Recycled Water Fill Station Stats – October 2016

Source: IRWD.com

Source: IRWD.com

Updated: 11/15/2016 with data from Dublin San Ramon Services District & City of Brentwood

The end of October marked a closing day for many fill stations as they grapple with staying open for the winter where demand for recycled water has become historically low and being unable to distribute recycled water 48 hours after any significant rainfall. For many, a reduction in fill station hours but for others, closing up shop until the spring. How much recycled water was given away last month? Find out in our monthly recycled water fill station stats.

Below are a few agencies that have some pertinent residential recycled water fill station information to report.

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