Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Phil Penny's comment after attending Ward 4 meeting, seeing plans proposed for Red Oak Park and hearing public comment


The comment below Phil Penny basically mirrors my thought: Why are we ignoring the need and real possibility of helping every landowner upstream hold water on his property. People hear the term "rain garden" and think of the engineered "rain gardens" built to show people how they can work. The fact is that rain gardens should be raised areas and need not cost much except for gutters to route roof and driveway runoff to appropriate parts of each lot. While many of the lots were covered impervious red dirt and then with turf, many others have plenty of the original absorbent prarie soil available to serve as natural rain-catching areas.
And why has Dave Evans not been brought back to show his plan and utilize the state's most experienced team of stream-restoration workers: The Game and Fish Commission's Stream Team.
 Phil Penny says:
After hearing the comments made regarding the drainage area of Red Oak Park, I was very concerned. I have spent several years of my career remediating problems caused by humans trying to control nature without recognizing they are working with a functioning system.   
First of all, we need to think of the perception of the public when we call something a “ditch” as this first order stream was being called at the meeting and by the Northwest Arkansas Times on Tuesday. 
Ditches are human contrived, straightened waterways typically next to roads. Most people do not “value” ditches.  However, this waterway is an extremely important component to the watershed. After looking at aerial photos prior to development and the topography of the landscape, it meet the hydrological criteria of a first order ephemeral stream, which feeds into Hamstring Creek, a second order stream, and then into Clear Creek, a third order stream etc.  It needs to be treated as a first order stream, which is part of a larger system, even if it has been heavily impacted - all of these systems have been impacted do to this development. We need to make sure that our future impacts are sustainable and that they are in best interest of the public. Public perception depends upon us making clear what is at stake – like the health of our water. 

After listening to the two proposed plans, my concern is they both have a piping system incorporated in them. Have we not learned what happens when we pipe water? Velocities and increase. Plug pools will dissipating energy. However water absorption is nonexistent in pipies. Won’t this just put the issue in someone else’s neighborhood?

The water has to be slowed. Dave Evan’s plan will stabilize the bank and it will slow water and increase absorption rates. However, Peter Futterknecht talked about slowing these impacts before they enter the system. This can help mitigate these impacts naturally. Since the area of absorption or the watershed is now a residential area, slowing water with rain barrels, cisterns, rain gardens, bio swales, check dams, and detention ponds up stream of this first order stream would have the greatest most positive impact. Piping water is not the solution. However, Low Impact Development is the key to not having this happen in the future. Just some of my thoughts. 
Phil