Rehydrating the Concrete Jungle | Summary and Q&A

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August 30, 2019
by
Andrew Millison
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Rehydrating the Concrete Jungle

TL;DR

An artistic and whimsical water harvesting system in downtown Seattle slows the flow of rainwater, supports vegetation, and improves water quality in the Puget Sound.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the purpose of the cistern in the water harvesting system?

The cistern acts as a surge tank, slowing down rainwater during heavy downpours and preventing it from racing directly into the Puget Sound. It allows the water to infiltrate and soak into the ground, benefiting vegetation and the water table.

Q: How does the sculptural downspout contribute to the water harvesting process?

The multi-pronged downspout, adorned with plants, further slows down the flow of water as it traverses down the side of the building. This additional slowing mechanism helps prevent rapid drainage into the street and allows for water infiltration.

Q: What are the potential benefits of replicating this water harvesting system throughout the city?

By multiplying this system on every street and building, there can be widespread impacts on the environment. Vegetation would benefit, as the system supports a microclimate and allows water to infiltrate instead of being quickly drained away. The hydrology and subsurface water table would also experience positive effects.

Q: How does the water harvesting system improve water quality in the Puget Sound?

The system slows down the flow of rainwater and allows for filtration through vegetation and natural processes. This helps reduce pollutants and sediment runoff, leading to improved water quality in the Puget Sound.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • In downtown Seattle, amidst tall buildings and steep streets, a unique water harvesting system is implemented.

  • The system includes a cistern that serves as a surge tank, slowing down rainwater before it infiltrates through small ponds and a forested area.

  • The water then flows down a sculptural downspout, being further slowed before reaching the street and eventually the Puget Sound.

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