New Dallas Building Standards May Reduce Stormwater Drainage – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

New building standards can help reduce runoff from the downpours North Texas has experienced recently and these measures are gaining attention with extreme weather forecast to increase in coming years.

There is talk in Dallas of making voluntary measures a requirement in the future.

During a downpour on Sunday, water drained from the paved parking lot, but water that fell into a landscaped area was held back. This is the idea behind some of the flood mitigation measures.

At the Oak Cliff Nature Center, a place that soaks up a lot of rainwater, environmental activist David Marquis said slowing runoff is a good thing.

“Because when you get a lot of water at once, it hits those storm systems. It sustains them. You have flooding in the streets, flooding in the neighborhood,” he said.

The Encina restaurant on Davis Street in Oak Cliff is an example of a different standard of development. There is very little concrete in the parking lot. Instead, there is gravel in the parking lot and landscaping that allows water to seep into the ground and slow water leaving the site.

A concrete parking lot on Lemmon Avenue near Inwood is surrounded by a bioswale. It is a retention zone that prevents rainwater from going to the storm drains.

In Deep Ellum, rain gardens have replaced sections of sidewalk along streets that were once covered in concrete. Now these places trap water that would have rushed into the storm drain.

“Economic development is a good thing. A vibrant economy is a good thing. But we have to be smart and do it in a way that we can plan for the future,” Marquis said.

Eleven years ago, the City of Dallas approved a set of regulations for a new development called Integrated Storm Water Management or iSWM. He recommended these measures but only made them voluntary.

Paula Blackmon, a member of the Dallas City Council and chair of the Dallas City Council’s environment committee, said Monday that a shift to mandatory iSWM rules is being discussed at City Hall as part of a an overhaul of all green building regulations.

“One of the things we need to do is start looking at some of these things regionally. These are regional issues. If the water falls there, it ends up here,” Marquis said.

The Trinity River through Dallas receives floodwaters from rapidly growing upstream communities that may not follow stormwater retention policies.

Marquis said the regional approach is needed because science says current extremes will become more normal.

“As bigger droughts and heavier rains fall, we have to manage them now upstream. And we have to do it not just for ourselves. We have to do it for our grandchildren and future generations, because if we don’t, they are the ones who will really suffer,” he said.

Marquis said some communities have pursued “net zero runoff” which would use various measures to prevent any rain that falls on a property from leaving that property.

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