Sustainable technologies are incorporated into the design and construction of park buildings through the capture, cleansing and reuse of rainwater.
Cleanse the Water
Water is a prized resource in South Texas, due to its relative scarcity. The Edwards Aquifer, the largest underground aquifer in Texas, serves approximately 1.7 million people. There are high levels of public awareness about water conservation and water purity due to the critical importance of maintaining that drinking source. Trees are another resource that is guarded closely. In recent years, clear cutting of trees for new housing developments—particularly in the Northern sector of San Antonio—has engendered a public desire for strict protections, resulting in ordinances restricting tree removal in many situations.
Rivers and creeks are a key feature of outdoor recreation in this part of the state. The Comal, Guadalupe, Medina, and Frio Rivers are all popular destinations for kayakers, canoers, and tubers.
Hardberger Park is a living laboratory and model for sustainable technologies which demonstrate how the urban environment can be constructed in ways that benefit the environment, while counteracting the impacts of urbanization and impervious cover. Both innovative and proven technologies for capturing, cleansing and reusing stormwater is integrated into the park structure. Bioswales and acequias convey water through the site while cleansing it. Check-dams along waterways slow and pool water, decreasing the quantity of runoff and erosion. Ponds, wetlands and wet meadows function as points of collection and infiltration as well as storage for reuse in the park. Cisterns at the park buildings collect and store rainwater for building uses.
Park elements will not only address the surface water within the site but also water flowing from and to areas outside of the park boundaries, as well as deep beneath the site. As the park is located within the Edwards Aquifer Transition Zone (EATZ), the potential exists that the capture and treatment of stormwater runoff will contribute to enhanced recharge of the underlying Edwards Aquifer. Water that once flowed from and into surrounding neighborhoods will be held and treated on the site to help reduce runoff and flooding of nearby communities. Further studies involving watershed modeling and water quality analysis at source points on the site will be necessary to determine the parameters and design of water treatment strategies at the park.
Hardberger Park is also conceptualized to be a community paragon of resource stewardship; water elements in the landscape will allow people to experience and learn about the variety of ways the different forms of water can be cleansed and used on site and throughout the region. Water reuse meets the needs of the park in a manner that is compatible with the south Texas climate, setting a relevant example for regions with similar characteristics to San Antonio.
Various forms of water occur on the site, including ephemeral drainage ways, ponding, aquifer infiltration spots, and runoff from surrounding properties.
Acknowledging the fluctuations of dry and wet conditions, the park framework optimizes available water by harvesting, filtering and reusing all sources of flow onto the site.