Green Space, Green Infrastructure, Good Water

As development continues to accelerate, open space plays a more important role in protection of our water supply.

As development continues to accelerate, open space plays an increasingly important role in protection of our water supply.

The following article on the critical role that open space plays in protecting our water supply was provided to Connemara by Mike Bastain, vice president with CH2M Hill, a global leader in full-service consulting, design, design-build, operations and program management.

By Mike Bastian

The growing population and consequent urbanization of North Texas makes it more difficult to preserve natural areas and open space close to where we live.  And, the loss of natural lands makes it more difficult to protect our drinking water supply that the growing population needs.

Only 7% of our drinking water in the North Texas comes from groundwater and over 90% comes from surface water supply reservoirs like Benbrook, Eagle Mountain, Lavon, Lewisville, Ray Hubbard and Ray Roberts, to name a few.  Moreover, we like to live near these lakes.  They provide recreation, great views, provide a premium to our home values and a boost to local economies.

It is reasonable to be concerned that pollution in storm water runoff from the urbanizing watersheds around reservoirs will degrade the quality of the water supply. However, we can do something about it.

Land conservation (green space) and green infrastructure (constructed green space) in watersheds can help protect water quality in our reservoirs.   Both approaches work in tandem.  Conserving land in a least disturbed vegetated condition along streams, ponds, and wetlands that drain to the reservoirs is a first step.  These buffer areas filter out pollution and slow down runoff so it does not scour stream channels and carry sediments into the reservoirs.

A second step is to build development with green infrastructure that allows storm water to soak into the ground and uses biological or physical processes to remove pollutants.  Rain gardens, vegetated filter strips, permeable pavement and green roofs all help reduce the peak storm water flows that carry these pollutants through creek channels. And, like the lakes, land conservation and green infrastructure can provide recreational space, great views, a premium to our home values, and a boost to the quality life in our communities.

It is a great feeling to be in a natural place and experience the beauty of nature around you.   There is intrinsic value in the conservation of natural lands.  As land uses in North Texas continue to change from rural to suburban and urban, natural areas will become more important in protecting the quality of our water supplies.  Everyone wants plenty of good drinking water, so let’s work together to help our neighbors understand the value of land conservation for protecting the quality of our water supplies.


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