"Draining" Water Problems
from A&M's Community
What's the Problem?
The drainage system in place today is not efficient enough to completely meet the needs of the university.
There are many visible signs of this problem throughout A&M's campus. Many areas that both students and staff commute through accumulate large amounts of standing water during storms and even drizzles. Notable examples of areas that are prone to this situation are the highly traversed Academic Plaza and various junctions of the famous Military Walk. These large puddles, which often cut off walking paths during and after rain, are unnecessary hassles to everyone in the vicinity, and require manual labor, as illustrated in the image on the right, to eliminate.
[Image source: www.csmonitor.com]
Minimal Storm Water Control
This inefficiency also brings about a problem that isn’t physically visible: cost. According to the Texas A&M University Utilities Energy Services archive, expenditures associated with the storm drainage system have been on the rise since 2013 and are projected to keep rising in the years to come. The table on the left displays the costs of managing the storm drainage system per square foot from 2013 to 2016. An unwanted upward trend is clearly visible.
The lack of a water capture system is letting money-saving rain water go to waste; rooftop runoff would be able to be stored and used with an update in the system. David J. Sample explains in his article how the mechanics of a rainwater harvesting system are not overly complicated. Water is diverted from rooftops and flow into storage tanks where it awaits further use which is shown in the image above. Luis F. Sanches Fernandes, in his article, notes how since rainwater is classified as a both a natural and renewable resource, its application can be even more effective in situations where drinking water is already accounted for. This allows for the resource to be completely taken advantage of in other fields without worrying about providing another source of drinking water.
Texas A&M would be able to alleviate costs by replacing the domestic cold water provided by the City of College Station with harvested rainwater, which is much cheaper to procure, in the areas of on campus irrigation, cleaning services, and waste removal. Storing water on campus could also decrease pumping costs, due to lower travel distance.
The potential benefits of these near self-sustainable rainwater capture systems are not present today. What steps will be needed to rectify the situation?
What's the Cause?
All of the problems we will be solving have natural and artificial causes; our solution targets these. To understand our plan, these must be explained; first, East Texas's patterns of precipitation will be explained.
Texas A&M University, as well as the city of College Station, is no stranger to heavy rain. The primary reason for these occurrences are due to several factors, the most important of those being geography.
[Image source: www.web2.airmail.net]
As is evident from the above map, rainfall increases across the state of Texas as one travels from west to east. College Station, on average, receives 32 to 48 inches per year.
El Niño, La Niña, and Tropical Storms
[Image source: www.airpadrekiteboarding.com]
[Image source: www.earthsoils.com]
Human interference and disruption can negatively alter the soil quality. Soil is supposed to absorb rainfall as it falls; however, human disturbance can degrade soil, creating poor soil runoff, as described by an article from the Fairfax County Virginia Website.
The regional and man-made factors stated lead to a water situation that requires fixing. Luckily, Jones & Carter has a solution.
What's the Solution?
The diagram shown below, created by David Sample for the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, is a simple representation of the system to be used.
Once adequately pure and ready for use, reclaimed rainwater from both sources would be used for any non-drinking purpose necessary, including in sinks, toilets, or watering of greenery.
A Bright Future
[Image source: www.tamu.edu]
The system would be economically optimal as well, due in part to less water having to be used from the city. Also, Texas A&M storm drainage expenses have been increasing. Taking more water from pavement for reuse purposes would reduce the load on the existing system. Finally, Mohammad Shakir's research for Applied Mechanics & Materials showed that a similar system of rainwater reclamation from roofs to the one we plan to use can completely refund its initial cost in 15 years.
If nothing else, it should be remembered that smarter water use and a better-drained campus will be brought, at a price that, given time, can be refunded by the plan itself. Our firm can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope that a wise decision can be made.