Innovative uses of engineered soils and functional landscapes in stormwater management and land planning
Soils are the essential link to both water quality and quantity. “Water loss, contamination, and purification are all directly affected by the soil. When soil no longer stores nutrients, regulates water flow, or filters chemical and biological contaminants, water quality is directly compromised (USCC, 1997). A soils management strategy, like the Clean Air and Water Act, is needed to address the fundamental problem of the loss of soil functions as we turn natural forested or grasslands into urban landscapes. A soil and landscape system should be viewed as a tool for stormwater infiltration, water conservation, and pollution control. Properly functioning soils have the potential to simultaneously improve the control of stormwater runoff, conserve water during the low-flow summer period, and reduce pollution associated with runoff. Currently, the permitting process does not recognize the value of a deep and permeable soil system as a stormwater management tool. A new approach to “Engineered Soils” (soils that perform to a measure of permeability, stability, and fertility) should be adopted to begin reversing this trend in land development (CH2MHILL, 2000). As this information is presented it will become evident that a relatively modest investment in more robust soil and landscape systems can have a leveraged beneficial effect on soil and water quality.