Montgomery County has issued rules about rain water management as relates to residential remodeling–especially for projects involving home additions. If the design plan shows an addition exceeds 400 square feet, the architect has to produce a rain water management plan for the property. Chevy Chase Village takes a more strict approach by eliminating the size allowance.
Buildings and homes are designed to shed water. That’s a good thing. When rain falls on your roof, water is directed via downspouts and pipes into storm sewers. That results in high velocity volumes of water barreling through the system. That’s not good. Over many years, all that fast moving water has unmercifully gutted and eroded our beautiful stream valleys (Rock Creek, Sligo). Further down stream the problem gets worse. All that soil erosion contributes to dead zones (oxygen depleted areas) in the Chesapeake Bay.
So… rain water from my roof top is suffocating oyster beds? Well, of course there are other culprits (roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etc etc) but, yes, buildings and homes are a contributing factor. It’s a big problem–especially since the infrastructure is all set up to move water as rapidly as possible to ….. someplace else.
In the Village of Chevy Chase, someplace else is now designated as your -not your neighbor’s- yard. So, as we planned a modest kitchen and family room addition for our clients on Hesketh Street in Chevy Chase, we were asked to comply with Village rules about water management. Our client had two choices:
They chose rain garden. A rain garden is a landscaping solution for controlling water on a residential lot. An area is excavated about two feet deep and filled half way with gravel and then soil and plants that can thrive in a damp environment. The rain garden solves the problem by providing a place for water to naturally collect and slowly be absorbed into the ground.
As it turns out, our clients have always had a low, wet area toward the back of their lot that they avoided. So, it was a perfect match. In this case it will provide the homeowners an opportunity to do something nice (and useful) with a hereto unattractive part of their back yard.