Water conservation has always been a big issue when it comes to the use of water in our homes. Water conservation saves on costs, allows less land use for stormwater management and helps with the quality of water that is available. One way builders are seeking to help even further with water conservation is through total hydrology planning.
Total hydrology planning is a methodology developed by landscape architecture firm Consilium Design to identify and utilize all water resources on a project site. Every site or piece of land is different in how it reacts to the climate. Total hydrology planning looks at this relationship and determines the best way to balance between water supply and demand.
In order for the process to be successful, it must be implemented during the land planning and design phase. When a new community is developed, reducing the development footprint will in turn reduce the linear foot runs of water, sanitary sewer and the developed flows, enabling designers to scale down stormwater management systems and the amount of irrigated landscape. The patterns and connectivity of streets should be altered to allow better balance water pressure and reduce line sizes and construction phasing. Clustering homes around shared common “front yard” for neighbors to gather and play also will help reduce water needs.
Instead of clearing all the land, developers would benefit from keeping some of the native landscape. The compact design of homes that take up less space is a good way to preserve native landscaping. Native landscaping is much easier to re-establish in areas where dirt has been moved to build a home.
Another great feature that can be added to an existing home or to a new neighborhood is rainwater harvesting. If done correctly, 30% or more portable water demand can be reduced. For a home, rooftop collection and storage work best. For a new community, directing surface rainwater as sheet flows or via curb cuts from streets, parking lots, patios and walks to adjacent landscape areas whenever possible.
Just by changing the way we conserve water helps to create solutions for builders when it comes to water management. Builders should shift from focusing on the water that is not there to the way they can maximize what is currently available. This will make the total hydrology planning a success.
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