Builders Battle Basic Rule Changes After Harvey
A Houston Chronicle article by Chris Tomlinson talks about things builders could do to make their properties more flood safe.
Innovative Products that Could Reduce Runoff
They include things like Porous Pave, made from recycled plastic, tires, and pavement. “Porous Pave is mixed and applied like asphalt, but once set, it is absorbent and permeable. Rather than water running into storm drains, the material soaks up the rain directs it into the sand underlying it,” says Tomlinson. Many people use the product for gardens, patios, and paths.
Porous Pave will pass 5,800 gallons of water per hour per square foot. The manufacturer also claims it offers:
- More void space than permeable pavers, pervious asphalt, pervious concrete – more porosity, more permeability for more rainwater infiltration
- Smaller installations deliver the same stormwater mitigation as more extensive, and more expensive, installations of other permeable paving materials
- Reduces the need for other on-site measures (retention ponds, swales) – more construction site area remains useable
- ADA compliant
- Safe and slip-resistant – even when wet
- Endless applications – even installs on steep grades up to 30 degrees
- As a topcoat, covers and bonds with old concrete, asphalt, brick, tile, and wood surfaces – eliminates the cost, disruption and waste of tear-outs
- Decreases the volume, slows the velocity of runoff
- Reduces erosion
- Made with rubber recycled from scrap tires – every 1,000 square feet of two-inch Porous Pave removes 300 old tires from the waste stream
I think we should test this in East End Park, perhaps on some hills where we continually encounter erosion problems.
Another product, Grid Pavers uses “plastic frames that keep soil and gravel from washing away while allowing grass to grow from underneath. They also prevent rainwater run-off by directing it to the ground.” Unfortunately, it’s more expensive than concrete, so rarely used in Houston.
Many countries around the world, mandate the use of such products, says Tomlinson. For a fascinating look into a better future, check out his story.
Rule Changes Resisted
However, the Chronicle article also discusses things the building industry in the Houston area is resisting – like adding more detention, as we saw in Montgomery County last August. Or updating flood maps.
Says Tomlinson, “The men and women who build our city are outraged that elected officials want to update our flood maps and force them to acknowledge their land is flood-prone.”
That’s because builders in flood zones must follow tighter rules for things, such as permeable cover, detention and elevation.
Collective Action Required To Make Meaningful Change
Tomlinson concludes the article with an admonishment. “Increasing the ground’s absorbency on a large scale can make the difference between a flooded lawn and a flooded home. But it depends on collective action, and unfortunately, the developers and builders of Houston are more interested in private profit than a more resilient community.”
Certainly, not all builders fall into that category. But enough do to create a competitive disadvantage for those who would like to do the right thing.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/30/2019
853 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 101 since Imelda