Category 2 – Planning and Urban Design
Name of Project: Rancho Viejo Surface-Water Management Manual
Project Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Purpose of the Project:
The purpose of the Rancho Viejo Surface-Water Management Manual is to create a model that demonstrates you can change the way developers, local engineers and local drainage authorities think about and manage surface-water runoff. The Surface-Water Management Manual provides principles and standard details that replace traditional engineering and county standards of pipe and concrete drainage ways with ones that manage water use and water quality from where it hits the roof or ground to where it leaves the site in a manner that meets NPDES standards, puts water to good use and protects the environment.
The philosophy upon which this manual was based is that natural rainfall is a precious resource and should be managed to sustain the project and the surrounding community and district. The Manual documents how to manage rainfall runoff for beneficial purposes including reduction of development costs, increased sales performance, improved environments and habitats, and a return of water to the aquifer.
As part of the process, the landscape architect assisted Rancho Viejo in identifying seven goals for the design of a sustainable storm-water management system:
1. Maximize the usable land on residential lots.
2. Reduce the impact of development on natural resources, mainly water, vegetation and soils.
3. Protect the site resources through the collection and reuse of site storm-water runoff.
4. Create storm-water management systems that are sustainable, functional and attractive.
5. Meet new NPDES requirements for water quality management.
6. Work toward returning storm water to the aquifer and receiving water credits from the county.
7. Establish a process to strategically improve the surface-water management system in each phase of development.
The purpose and requirements of the Surface-Water Management Manual was to ensure successful implementation of these goals through documenting the lessons learned and current construction techniques that have proven successful and identifying the strategies and techniques to implement them. Strategies include an integrated team approach to site design, engineering, landscape architecture, construction management from the planning stages through construction and assisting with prioritizing, budgeting and scheduling of new or improved approaches to surface-water management.
The proposed approach and intent for the surface-water management system at Rancho Viejo is to go beyond minimizing site destruction and strive to re-establish the natural processes necessary to sustain ecological, social and cultural systems and to continually evaluate and improve on the strategies implemented with each new phase of development. Category 2 – Planning and Urban Design
This manual is intended to be a living document that will be used as a proactive tool to record the lessons learned through each new phase of development and will lead to the implementation and testing of improved, sustainable surface-water management technology and sustainable construction and management practices at Rancho Viejo and can be used as a model for other new community developments. The successful adaptation of surface-water management measures indicates that a holistic and green approach to water conservation and reuse works for the developer, the homeowner and public agencies.
Surface-water management strategies employed at Rancho Viejo involve the dual use and reuse of the water as it passes through homes, yards, parks, open space and the treatment system. The water is returned to the underlying aquifer to maintain the level of the aquifer in perpetuity. The efficiency of the water system is designed to minimize the loss of this very precious resource.
Role of the Landscape Architect:
The landscape architect has been involved in the Rancho Viejo collaborative planning process since 1997, working with the client through the land-based zoning process and preparing the land analysis and classifications of land systems, the GIS map series including the land use and zoning maps that form the physical plan for the community. These documents created the foundational information for the surface-water management manual.
The landscape architect designed the new drainage concepts for the surface-water management systems, worked with engineers and developers to build and test the new elements of the management concepts, and led a series of workshops and site visits to review implemented details, lessons learned, achieve a consensus of the developer, the engineers and landscape architects on the standards for each type of surface drainage, from where water hits the roof or the ground where it leaves the site. The last step in the development of the manual was to identify the next steps in improving the efficiency, sustainability, and aesthetics of the system. The landscape architect designed and wrote the manual in a form that is easy for the engineers and developer to implement, and prepared all content research, graphics and text.
The manual is a model of how to change the way developers do business by preparing a set of standards that are sensitive to the environment, the land and our precious water resources, and are as easy to implement and maintain as conventional systems.
The Rancho Viejo Surface-Water Management Plan is a model for using storm water as a resource and illustrates that landscape architects can effectively lead the design of green storm-water management systems through a collaborative approach that improves the visual quality of the site, creates habitat, stabilizes soils, conserves water and meets the federal water quality requirements without increasing land or maintenance costs while meeting engineering requirements. Currently there are very few developments that have implemented documented or have a system of evaluating the success of innovative surface-water management techniques.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.