As Florida’s population grows, so does the need for developments to support the population increase. While some areas in the state are dense and compressed already, there are other areas such as St. Cloud, in Central Florida, that have room to grow and adapt to today’s world of housing.
RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture has been working with national home builders on a large-scale project called Center Lake Ranch in St. Cloud that aims to provide sustainable and environmentally friendly housing to thousands of people. With RVi’s background in creating parks, amenities, and sustainable communities, we know what it takes to connect with the natural environment in a way that integrates the wetlands into something for people to enjoy. However, the water management company for the Center Lake Ranch area, known as the Toho Water Authority has strict regulations on water usage, which make the goals of the future community somewhat complicated to achieve – but as always, RVi is up for the challenge.
The area Center Lake Ranch is zoned for utilizes regulated reuse water, and according to the construction regulations set by the Toho Water Authority called the Toho Efficiency Program (TEP), the area is allowed to use a maximum irrigation duration totaling 60 minutes daily, and a maximum of 28 inches of water per square foot annually. While the restrictions placed by the Toho Water Authority can seem like roadblocks due to the designers having to find alternative methods to comply with the regulations as well as having to sell the developers on these methods, they are there for a good reason – to keep the environment safe. In subtropical Florida, most people want to see palm trees and colorful plants, but these plants are not always ideal for placement in communities like Center Lake Ranch due to the environmental impact that they create from their high water consumption and need for intense sunlight. The designer’s job in this scenario is to find the best live plant material for the job, which typically native plantings that buffers the flow of water and can retain the irrigated water for longer durations of utilization.
While the construction of Center Lake Ranch is already underway, there is still a large amount of work to be done. Roadways are currently paving the way for the project, and construction of the community buildings is set to begin early next year, RVi is working closely with the county and the Toho Water Authority to work out the difficulties within the county regulations so that Center Lake Ranch can be a community for people to enjoy inside, and outside.