“Being smarter about how we use natural resources is in our DNA.” — Stapleton
Stapleton has come a long way since Andropogon helped prepare the 1995 Development Plan for the community, including the open space management and habitat restoration plan. Stapleton is a 4,700-acre mixed-use community, which once was an airport and is located in the High Plains ecoregion. The “smart growth” development includes residential neighborhoods, parks, schools, village shops, workplaces, and cultural venues. As a member of the core planning team, Andropogon analyzed the site’s environmental patterns, from subterranean drainage patterns to plant and wildlife communities, to develop ecological design strategies for the entire community. The open space –– more than one fourth of the site –– with park, trails and recreational facilities, combined with a cost-effective “natural drainage system” and restored native landscapes, serves as the development’s stormwater management system.
Below are some excerpts from Andropogon’s open space plan:
High Plains Drainage- Collection Swale
All swales in the main drainage system for Stapleton will be based on the naturally occurring ‘sandbar channel’ for maximum habitat establishment potential. Natural swales in this arid region are very wide and shallow and all Stapleton swales have been given ample width to accommodate the establishment of a similar natural form. During storm events, a system of meandering and braided sub-channels with sand bars is created within the body of the main channel. Different plants become rapidly established on bars forming a rich ribboning of native vegetation including cottonwoods and sandbar willows.
In Stapleton, swales may remain dry for long periods before full development occurs and increases runoff. Such swales would be initially planted with grasses and other plants suitable for the drier conditions. Some swales might be planted with the extended vocabulary of the ‘woody draw’ such as green ash, American elm and box elder This example shows a collection swale of medium size.
High Plains Drainage- Playa Lake/Water Quality Site
The ‘Playa Lake’ is the habitat model for all of the open ponded areas on the site regardless of whether they are for storm water storage or water quality improvement although there may be structural differences depending on the specific use and location, maintenance requirements, etc. The Playa Lake is essentially an ephemeral pond that fills with water after storms. Ponds would be designed to empty in a 48 hour period to conform with storm water detention requirements, however, for habitat purposes, a shallow damp bottom would be maintained in which a meadow of rushes can be established.
This would be achieved with several techniques used individually or in combination. One method would be to partially impound the ground water plume with a sub-surface barrier as shown. Another would be to supply the the pond with a small base flow such as that available from the Montbello drain, or other re-use sources. The basin shape would be a very shallow bowl shape that would allow lake bottom and lake fringe species to vary in their locations depending on groundwater availability.