Never before has the name Waterview been so appropriate. As you may recall, heavy rains marked the end of Spring Break. And boy did it rain. For over a day, the heavens opened, and although the resulting water could be considered manna, in this case I’m not so sure.
I’ll be the first to admit that my planning for these occasional monsoon- ish days is not the most complete. My umbrella was cheap when it came off the Wal-Mart shelf many a moon ago, and, pardon the pun, it hasn’t weathered very well. At this point it acts more as a miniature shield which, without terrible winds, can be somewhat directed against the direction of the rain. It was with this, my rain coat, and other protective clothing that I ventured out into the storm.
While I had accurately prepared for the fact that falling rain would hit my upper body first (i.e. hold the umbrella over my head), I was not prepared for what lay below: so much rain hitting the ground in so short a period of time that it formed a rapidly moving stream. It’s a good thing there are sidewalks. But alas, therein lies the problem.
The landscaping of Phase III is such that the sidewalks are often the low points of the area, allowing them to beautifully funnel the flowing water. Granted, there are small indentations in the surrounding grass and dirt; perhaps they could be referred to as ditches. These parallel the walkways, which provide great assistance when there is a lighter rain. However, for the downpours that we often witness, these areas fill rapidly, overflow, and simply add debris and dirt picked up from these ditches to the flowing concrete-bottomed stream.
Let me be clear in the fact that I am not attempting to cast blame. Whether Waterview did or did not have say in the actual height of sidewalks is moot. The construction was decades ago. However, Waterview does currently have the power to correct the situation.
Two options are available: make the sidewalks higher, or make the surrounding land lower. As the first option would essentially involve rebuilding the sidewalk network—which may result in more efficient pathways but require high costs—this leaves the management with the second option.
The easiest and most practical approach to this solution would be to dig the current indentations deeper and make them real ditches. Further evidence that the current rivets do not do their intended job can be seen by the repositioned wooden bridges that the rising tide has shifted. I thank Waterview (in all seriousness) for adding new wooden planks just this year. Perhaps it would be possible to dig slightly deeper underneath them in the future.
However, before undertaking the project of digging real ditches, Waterview should consider two additional points: that not all sidewalks actually need the ditches, and for those that need ditches, there should be a discussion as to the best method of digging them. They not only need to collect the water, but also divert the water onward. The apartment complex certainly does not need ditches filled with stagnant water, especially this time of year, which provide supple breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
I must admit that the sidewalks at present do at least funnel the water away from the apartments and into the parking lot, where at night it meets up with the artificial lake caused by the sprinkler systems.
Although my focus is largely on the apartment complexes, this observation is certainly not limited to them. With the University already underway in the conceptualization of the new freshman dorms, I am confident that appropriate measures will be taken to keep the students dry when necessary without sacrificing too much visual appeal. Perhaps a more daunting task would be on campus outside of the Library and Student Union, where a small lake appears. With nothing but concrete all around, there may be no easy solution.
I will concede that these projects may not be worth the costs, although I can’t imagine digging a few ditches to be terribly expensive. For the few times a year that it really rains, perhaps these ditches are not worth the loss in aesthetic appeal, soaked possessions, or the potential mosquito problem.
Hopefully this is not the case and the project can be completed quickly. Until then, though, it may not be a bad idea to buy a better umbrella, a heavier coat, and potentially even some waterproof shoes.