Low Impact Development in Electric Style

Bill-Harris-ThinkBlue-smLow impact development, or “re-development” as New School of Architecture and Design speaker Leslie Ryan emphasized on Tuesday night, is the key to reducing the amount of pollution that runs into our beautiful San Diego Bay and surrounding ocean areas. To ensure beautiful beaches and clean water, San Diego residents need to start redeveloping our streets and sidewalks to reduce urban runoff.

That’s what we learned at Signs of the Tide at the Electric Ladyland Art and Music Center in Ocean Beach. The venue created an exciting atmosphere for our moderator, Robert Santos, to set the tone of importance for low impact development in Ocean Beach.

We also heard from Edward Belden, the Principal of SCALEgreen LLC, who spoke about the issues surrounding urban runoff pollutants and where they originate. Runoff pollution consists of wet weather flows, when San Diego receives heavy rain, and dry (summer) weather flows from over irrigation of manicured lawns and carwashing in the driveway. He successfully proposed and implemented a project in Los Angeles that altered a neighborhood with a lot of runoff, to a neighborhood that is more conscious of the water that ultimately reaches the ocean. The project installed bioswales to catch water upstream, filter it into the ground and into the plants, and release less water downstream. And the project redesigned yards to have xeriscape lawns instead of water-intensive grass.

Mr. Stormwater, A.K.A Bill Harris from Think Blue San Diego, gave an expert opinion on how to reuse your stormwater runoff, by implementing the use of rain barrels; individual homes can place them under their gutter systems to catch water. In the near future, you may also be able to use a rain barrel and receive a rebate! How about that? Collect water, and get cash for it!

low-impact-development-ob-smLeslie Ryan, landscape architecture department chair at the New School of Architecture and Design, along with her students, developed a project plan to reduce stormwater flow along Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach. The roads would be redesigned to replace black-top and concrete with permeable pavement where water can soak in, instead of flowing downhill, new parking surfaces with permeable pavement, and planter systems to absorb water in the medians and on the corners of the street. Each intervention could be as small as incorporating a planter in front of a business.

So, what can WE do to reduce the amount of urban runoff NOW? Well, according to our speakers, the
most important takeaways from our LID discussion are these:

  1. Change small personal behaviors (pick up after your dog, don’t overwater your lawn, etc.)
  2. Make all possible surfaces permeable
  3. Change your Landscaping (Implement a xeriscape lawn, or climate friendly plants)
  4. Buy a rain barrel and collect your own stormwater runoff