As a followup from our site preparation post, lets focus on following our design for an infiltration trench and actually dig one in. We left off with having dug up a birch tree stump which should leave us with enough room to put the dirt from the trench.
Start trench at least 10 feet from house foundation.
The infiltration trench is designed to allow rainwater from the roofs’ gutters to flow into an underground chamber and then overflow to the street. This will provide the rainwater from the roof a chance to percolate into the ground first before contributing to storm water runoff. This example has been taken from “Capturing Urban Runoff At Home – Part 1“.
Birch tree root rot.
Before digging the actual infiltration trench, I need to do some site preparation. I had a birch tree which suffered from root rot and it had to be removed both for the safety of nearby structures and the tree was dying. My goal with this project was to:
- dig out old tree roots and stumps
- remove black plastic weed barrier under top soil
- repair old irrigation lines
- remove enough debris to make room for trench dirt.
In this photo article, I’ll show you how I managed to complete this part of the project. All work was done by hand, except for a little chainsaw work. Click photos for full size.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
First 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.
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”:
- porous materials that will increase the amount of runoff that seeps into the ground, rather than being carried into storm drains
- natural drainage
- filtration pits
- swales, berms, green strip filters, gravel beds and french drains.
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