Help for the Little Guy

A new underground detention system project is underway that might help small business owners in Texas. Typically, detention ponds are dug out on land near a new business; their purpose is to hold massive amounts of rain water, preventing it from flooding the area, and then slowly release it into the storm sewer system.

The problem for small business owners is that they take up valuable land. Jeremy Peters with Gessner Engineering in College Station, Texas, is heading up plans to bury cylinders designed to hold rain water underground, leaving the land on top ready to use for other purposes.

"We're able to preserve the usable land on top. So even though we're putting that volume underground, we're able to put parking, landscaping and other surface features on top," said Peters. "So we're basically using the land twice. We're using it underground for detention, and using the surface for conventional development purposes."

Tim Owens said his new Taco Casa will benefit a great deal from the project. “After it’s finished, we’ll be able to pave over it and have parking areas, landscape and a lot of things for our customers.”

The upfront cost of building the system is more expensive than the traditional ponds, but Peters said that as the cost of land continues to rise in his area, more business owners are looking at the underground systems.

"When you look at building a conventional detention pond on the surface, it is more expensive than that per cubic foot of storage volume," said Peters. "However, if you take into account what the land actually costs to buy and build on, this is a more cost-effective option."