LID design contest targets stormwater pollutants

Next year new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency take effect for all municipalities in Tennessee, and the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability got a head start by hosting a Low Impact Development (LID) design competition involving local design firms and their ideas for a new development in Frayser. The team of Dalhoff Thomas design|studio and The Corradino Group took first place and won $15,000.
“Overall, the teams found it to be cheaper to develop low-impact development instead of the traditional way, which has been one of the hesitations people have had in the past,” says Christine Donhardt, Senior Planner with the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability. “I think it’s going to happen here much more now that people are really inspired.”
The contest began in March, and eleven teams encompassing 28 firms (including agencies from California, Kentucky and Louisiana) turned their designs in by July. The focus on the contest is a future 12.5-acre, 40-townhome senior living community inside United Housing Inc.’s Wolf River Bluffs planned development in Frayser.
“It’s a great location that presented a few challenges as far as topography, with more slopes than normal for Memphis, so that made it exciting,” says Donhardt.
Teams were judged on how they dealt with stormwater runoff and treatment of pollutants.
“In traditional developments stormwater is pumped off site, carrying pollutants directly to the steams, and often it might flood streams on days with heavier rains,” explains Donhardt. “Low-impact development uses engineered soils to capture the water before runoff and then plant materials break down pollutants and treat them onsite.”
Funding for the contest came from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Stormwater Association, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Other partners included City of Memphis Stormwater Program, Shelby County Engineering, ULI Memphis, Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Tennessee American Planning Association, West Tennessee Branch-American Society of Civil Engineers, Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, and Simmons Land Company.
By Michael Waddell

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.

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