Overview of Storm Water Systems

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You might be curious of how rain water is drained and where it eventually goes. After all, a typical 30-minute rain can produce up to a ton of water at a time. How come we never end up swimming in water for most rains?

You might be surprised to realize that water systems are all around you, even though you may not see them. They are largely constructed underground, only visible via street drainages. They are also present in larger and more advanced buildings, built into the walls and pipes.

Traditionally, rain water has always naturally flown into rivers and lakes with crevices and land shifts. However, in the last century we've created buildings, underground railways and highways that get in the way of this natural flow. It is therefore our responsibility to make sure we are not damaging this natural flow with our infrastructure.

Water systems come in many forms. First, they may come as detention ponds. This is a man-made pond made partly of a "permanent" body of water and the rainwater that flows in and out regularly. This is similar to keeping a basin of water partially full all the time. When it rains, the level of water in the pond rises, and solid impurities, such as dirt and sediments, sink to the ground, allowing the purer water to rise. This pure water is eventually channeled into pipes constructed high up the pond. These pipes are made so that they only get filled when the water overflows when there is rain.

We also have the concept of man-made swales. These are ditches or artificially sloped tracts of land that are created in low degrees, such as 5-15 degrees, so that the water it carries are as slowly flowed into an eventual runoff. Within the swale are compost, plants and rocks meant to trap dirt like a filter while the water is flowed. The result is clean and pure water released into lakes. This is a construction in storm water solutions that mimics the natural flow of rivers and streams with thick vegetation and rocky landscapes.

Lastly, another popular storm water system is the rain gardens. This is mostly used for more urbanized areas with many gutters, roofs and driveways. Water here is designed to be absorbed into the ground via curved walkways and asphalt grounds, while filtering out sediments with screens.

There are many storm water solutions created to put our environment back into its natural rhythm. Recent technological advances have continuously made these systems better and more efficient.

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