Master Drainage Planning
for Community Enhancement

When planning a new development, it is vital to understand and plan for the flow of water. When creating pavement and street designs, the proper placement of storm drains, sewers, and the lasting impact poor design can have on the community, environment, and economy comes into play. Master drainage plans and detention basins are necessary tools for existing communities to limit the adverse effects of new development and can add benefit and value through increased recreation area and park space.

Master drainage plans for communities identify potential problems and provide a road map for future drainage-related activities within new or existing developments. Similar to water supply future demands assessments, the drainage planning effort involves identification of future projects to be implemented based upon development phases or current flood-related issues, with the goal being to incorporate this information into development plans to protect the community and its infrastructure. Master drainage plans help eliminate or reduce flood risks for property owners and businesses and maintain safe emergency evacuation routes. In reducing risks for the target community, master drainage planning establishes safe pathways and buffer zones for floodwaters while preventing adverse impacts to downstream or neighboring communities.

Detention basins are usually an integral part of an overall master drainage plan. In most communities, detention volume is required for all new development in order to attenuate increased rainfall runoff rates (primarily due to impervious cover) down to pre-development levels. Regional detention basins — large basins that serve several neighborhoods or communities — are usually constructed as part of a master drainage plan and are used as a flood control or a flood risk reduction tool. In all cases, the purpose of these basins is to help prevent localized flooding, reduce streambank erosion, and often provide some water quality benefits.

Depending on their location and design, detention basins can often provide the added “dual-use” benefit of recreational areas for trails, parks, ball fields, water features, or a combination of these. An example of a dual-use regional detention basin is the proposed Country Creek Basin in Houston, Texas. This basin will provide detention volume to offset future City of Houston capital improvement projects and also provide much-needed park area for an underserved community. The park will feature a wet-bottom amenity pond with a wetland shelf, paved and unpaved pedestrian trails, picnic areas, playground, and a parking area.

Proper drainage can prevent serious erosion, flooding, and other property damage. If a city or property is not drained properly, water can seep into the core foundation of buildings or structures causing damage and even landslides. Ultimately, master drainage plans and detention basins are tools for both community protection and enhancement.

If designed properly, master
drainage plans will incorporate:

  • Respect people by reducing their risk of flooding.
  • Honor the time and money by helping property owners avoid dealing with future property losses or transportation issues.
  • Protect the built environment by protecting downstream infrastructure and properties.
  • Preserve nature by protecting its corridors and streambanks, as well as reducing pollutants and capturing floatables, or by providing a habitat for amphibians, birds, reptiles, and wetland vegetation.