Parjana Distribution LLC and Lawrence Technological University have partnered together—along with the City of Southfield—to research and discover a new energy passive solution for stormwater management.
Funded by a Stormwater Challenge Grant of $100,000 from a local foundation, this project has the potential to completely reshape the way in which the world handles stormwater runoff. The project is headed by Don Carpenter, a civil engineering professor and founding director of the Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute at LTU. Together, Parjana and LTU are driven to propel thought leadership and innovation into the stormwater management sector.
STORMWATER MANAGEMENT: A GROWING ISSUE
As we continue to develop land, the earth’s natural balance and circulation systems are being simultaneously destroyed. When it rains, the earth is supposed to infiltrate the water, but the influence of mankind is sabotaging nature’s ability to absorb the rain. And as space becomes a major limitation, so does finding places to build solutions.
Additionally, governmental corporations have spent billions of dollars building infrastructure to manage stormwater through centralization and have a financial incentive to impede innovation. The problem is those systems take clean rainwater and combine it with our sanitary system—polluting a natural resource, then “cleaning” it with chemicals and discharging it into rivers and streams. Not only is that not the safest approach, but stormwater management is also becoming an increasing economic challenge in our region as cities like Detroit are now being charged stormwater fees at a rate of $750 per month per acre for the non-permeable land.
It is believed by many that we will never build enough infrastructure to manage the heavens. That the future of stormwater management is decentralization and infiltrating rain when and where it falls as Mother Nature originally intended. (Infiltration in Place)
ESTABLISHING A SOLUTION FOR THE FUTURE
The goal of this project is to establish a decentralized technology system that can manage 1” inch of rain in a 24-hour period. The testing site for this solution is a half-acre parking lot located on the LTU campus.
Parjana and LTU approached this challenge with biomimicry science, the study of how to imitate nature’s models, systems and elements to solve complex human problems. They found that tree roots created natural infiltration and capillary action that allowed the earth to maintain balance. If they could mimic a tree root, they might be able to establish a technology that conditioned soil to be able to naturally infiltrate water where it falls.
Parjana’s energy-passive groundwater recharge products—or EGRPs—which are basically artificial tree roots that operate off energies and pressures within the earth to create an equalization of soil conditions. This technology uses earth’s natural movements to enable the ground to successfully infiltrate rainwater, as it is supposed to within the laws of nature.
The installation of these EGRPs was completed in December 2015. A 20ft. wide x 25ft. long x 6ft. deep holding well was dug into the parking lot to act as a natural storm drain. The holding well was backed filled by a porous construction material called Haydite and covered with porous pavers. Then EGRP’s were installed around the holding well to address infiltration.
This systems based solution effectively addresses water quantity and water quality, while also being space efficient because people can literally park on top of the infrastructure. Plus, the design is modular and can be applied to any curb drain or storm drain for a manageable cost.
EXPANDING A PROJECT WITH TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL
This stormwater technology solution will take at least 18 months to settle into the earth, at which time data will start to outline the baseline of success. LTU will lead the study—analyzing temperature, soil conditions and changes in order to track progress.
The hope is to partner with other private sectors and academic organizations across the country in order to test the solution in different climates and bring credibility to the research conducted. With an additional $400,000 grant, this project will expand to other college campuses in Ohio, Washington D.C., Florida and California.
Parjana, LTU and the City of Southfield can be the first organizations leading the charge for a technological movement that will inspire a stormwater management revolution with the objective of becoming thought leaders in water management. When people demand access to Michigan’s water we can teach them how to better manage the water they already have.