Designing a low-water landscape
Harvesting and reusing rainwater
Reusing grey water
Installing low-flow fixtures
Using permeable paving
What is it?
In addition to addressing the standard concerns of storm water management, sustainable community development also works to control the use of potable water with the goal of minimizing its consumption. Sustainable development aims to reduce the exposure of storm water to contaminants so that on-site remediation of the storm water is possible rather than exporting the water to areas outside the Village for treatment. This approach manages compliance risks while also controlling expenses. Storm water east of Green Bay Road (1/3 of total) is drained via storm sewers to Lake Michigan while storm water west of Green Bay Road (2/3 of total) is piped to the Skokie Lagoons.
Why it is important
Designing a low-water landscape. There is natural beauty in the native ecosystems of Illinois: forest, savannah, prairie and wetland. It is expected that the landscape along roads leading into and through the Village could be highly stylized with a traditional, manicured appearance. However, sites throughout the state have proven that this look can be achieved through the use of native and adaptive species of plants that require less water, fertilizer, herbicides and chemicals than more exotic species.
Harvesting and reusing rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is an old and relatively simple concept: rather than piping rainwater off of building roofs directly into the sewer system, it is directed into on-site storage where it can be used for non-potable purposes. Simple systems use above-ground tanks that rely on natural pressure to pump the collected water into the surrounding landscape for irrigation. More complex systems, such as employed at the Glencoe Golf Club, connect to mechanical irrigation systems, open ponds, or underground tanks that are out of sight and have vast storage capacity.
Reusing grey water. Grey water systems recycle water from sinks and showers to operate toilets rather than sending the slightly dirty water directly to municipal treatment plants. These systems greatly reduce the volume of potable water needed for daily operations.
Installing low-flow fixtures in buildings. Along with the low-flow sink faucets and shower heads that are becoming more common in residential bathrooms and kitchens, dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals should also be considered. Each of these options greatly reduces the volume of potable water a residence must use in its day-to-day operations.
Using permeable paving. Standard paving materials, like asphalt, are impervious to water and their surfaces must be designed to divert runoff to storm drains and sewers. Heavy rains strain the capacity of municipal sewer systems and can result in flooding of roadways and buildings. By contrast, permeable paving systems such as pavers and permeable concrete allow 80-100% of rainwater to filter directly into the ground. This removes a significant amount of strain from the sewer system, reduces the need for on-site storage systems, and helps prevent back-ups and failures during heavy rain events.