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Hawk leads stormwater primer

Community Development Director Ruth Hawk led Farragut Municipal Planning Commissioners in a stormwater workshop, Thursday, Sept. 17.

“Stormwater is a big aspect of our regulations,” Hawk said.

“The staff deal with stormwater all the time with the complaint system,” she added.

Those complaints have risen recently because of the higher-than-average rainfall. This year, the area could receive 65 to 70 inches of rain; the norm is 50 to 60 inches.

Farragut, Hawk said, is under very strict federal mandates regarding stormwater because all its streams are labeled “impaired,” meaning they are highly polluted with sediment.

Why is it a big deal to have sediment in streams?

“Picture yourself in a smoke-filled room, and if you don’t like it, that’s how the fish feel,” Hawk said.

The biggest problem with sediment in streams is depletion of oxygen, she added.

High amounts of sediment change water depth, flow patterns and temperature. Sediment also could affect photosynthesis of water plants and could transport chemicals and metals into the water.

“It smothers fish eggs and fish nests; it clogs the gills of fish and other aquatic life; it interferes with the feeding of fish species who find food by sight,” Hawk said.

Economically, Hawk said, “It costs more money to treat water to drink when the water isn’t clean.”

Silt also can lead to more instances of flooding, a common complaint in parts of Farragut.

“If you fill up your water channel with sediment, there’s not enough room for water anymore,” she added.

And the power and volume of water is something often over-estimated, Hawk said.

“One cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds.

“In one inch of rain over one acre of impervious surface, that means things like a building and a parking lot … that’s 27,000 gallons of water,” Hawk said.

“That’s about 13, 14 houses [in a typical subdivision],” she added.

Total runoff of rainfall, Hawk said, is a much larger amount of water than typically thought.

This is a large part of the drainage problems in Village Green, Shiloh and surrounding developments.

Part of Farragut’s design requirements, Hawk said, is to design developments for different types of storms.

Those types are often referred to as two-year, five-year, 10-year, 25-year, 50-year and 100-year storms. Precipitation qualifies as a 100-year storm when there is more than 6.6 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Farragut’s tree ordinances also help control rainfall runoff.

“Those leaves hold an inordinate amount of water,” Hawk said.

“When we require tree planting, it helps stormwater, it helps air temperature, it helps air quality,” she added.


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