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Moratorium placed on site coverage relaxations

Posted on September 23, 2014 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Carlie Connolly

Cypress County is investigating whether detaining the extra site coverage water on a particular site is the best method of handling the water.

The site coverage is another term for areas of hard surfacing that don’t allow for when it rains or when the snow melts for the water to soak into the ground. Hard surfacing can include the rooftop of a house, hard surfacing of a patio, sidewalk or driveway that doesn’t allow the water to soak in. What the council then has to do is put a restriction on to tell homeowners that they only have a certain percentage of their yard area under a hard surface. This is so that the overall storm water management for the whole community or the area that the subdivision is in has some sort of storm water management design, which allows for a certain amount of that water to leave each yard. The rest of the water then has to be contained within the yard itself so that it soaks into the ground.

In Desert Blume for example, they allow 45% of the water that’s generated on that property to leave the property and enter into the storm water management system. If 45% is allowed to leave, then 55% has to be retained and kept on the site.

The issue is that people will come to the council and ask to increase that coverage by around 5% because they may want to put certain things in to beautify their lot. This can include adding more hard surfacing. They also like to reduce the amount of maintenance in terms of cutting grass so they put in additional hard surfacing. It’s also not just to beautify but also to add more room for cars and garages.

Council then has to ask those individuals that want the increased coverage to provide them with a detailed design on how they’re going to retain that additional 5% on the lot so it soaks into the yard and doesn’t leave the property.

The council would then have to issue the permit for a site coverage relaxation once they got that design showing how they would retain that water on their lot. Jeffrey Dowling, Cypress County’s planner said that what they discovered in certain parts of Desert Blume, and possibly in other hamlets is that the soil conditions under each lot may not be conducive to accepting an increased amount of water because of the soil conditions. He said that this is because there could be additional clay, so that water from the additional water from the extra hard surfacing and site coverage could be soaking into the ground and could be creating a case where the property and the soil in the yard could be over-saturated. This could then not allow the water to soak through the sub soil structure and get into the underground water flows.

“As a result it just sits there and doesn’t percolate and pass through the soil while the yard could become over-saturated which could lead to other problems,” he said.

On Sept. 16, council passed a moratorium that says they aren’t going to allow anymore site coverage relaxations until they can get some further engineering work done to investigate the best way they should be going and if a detention pond is the answer.

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