Removing the Skid Marks

row4riceLast time we explored the sordid fecal underbelly of the Buffalo Bayou. We didn’t want to leave you hanging, believing that it was only a matter of time before E. Coli laid claim to Houston’s sole waterway.

Today we examine how the city of Houston has addressed the bacterial problems of the bayou through Best Management Practices (BMPs), a term used to describe systems setup to reduce water contamination. Four main solutions exist to remove/prevent fecal contamination from (reaching) the bayou:

Wet / Dry Basins
You’ve likely walked by one of these without noticing. Whether they permanently hold water or dry out between rains, these basins are manmade, excavated areas that are installed alongside waterways to trap runoff.

Larger basins often have adjoined chemical treatment plants.

Grassy Swales
A type of bioswale (think: a trench with gentle, contoured sides) filled with vegetation. As water runs through the swale, the plant matter traps containments thereby acting as a filter.

Vegetative Filter Strips
These are dense plantings along the embankments of a body water that slow and evenly distribute runoff. Much like grassy swales, the plant life pulls containments out of the run off.

BMPs include preservation of wetlands. Composed of hydric soil teeming with aquatic plants, wetlands are nature’s epitome of a natural biological filter. Unfortunately, the land surrounding much of Houston’s Buffalo Bayou is at premium, so many natural wetlands have been destroyed.