Have you ever wondered where all the rainfall goes after a storm? Some of it is absorbed by the soil, but rain or snowmelt that does not get absorbed flows into streets, storm drains, and rivers. This water that “runs off” the land into streams is called stormwater runoff. Stormwater picks up the trash, chemicals, and bacteria it encounters, and thus can carry many kinds of pollutants into local waterways.
Stormwater management may seem like a big job, but it’s a job that everyone can get involved in. There are several small steps you can take to help reduce and clean the stormwater in your neighborhood. If a lot of people take these small steps, the impact will add up to make a big difference. Whether you live in a city, a suburb, or a rural area, read on to learn about the changes you can make in your daily life (and on your property) to protect local water quality.
Many things you can do on your property and in your daily routine are discussed in detail on the Reduce Your Stormwater website. These things add up to environmental impacts that also offer you aesthetic value, increase in property value, wildlife habitat, and more. You may consider:
- Planting a tree in your yard or increasing riparian buffer coverage if you live along a stream
- Installing a beautiful and functional rain garden, conservation landscape, green roof, or native meadow
- Prevent excess water from entering drains by disconnecting your downspout, using a rain barrel, or replacing impervious surface with permeable surfaces
- Changing your habits in vehicle maintenance, winter de-icing, and pet waste management in environmentally friendly ways
- Maintaining a healthy lawn and garden, and never dumping items you shouldn’t into storm drains
Reduce Your Stormwater (Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay) has compiled information on many homeowner best management practices.
The Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s “Be Bay Friendly” offers guidance in assessing stormwater on your property and how to manage it.
The Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater is an online tool developed by the Little Conestoga Partnership to help you assess stormwater management on your property.
Penn State Extension’s “Stormwater Management on Residential Lots” page offers an overview of pollution originating on residential lots and steps to take to prevent that pollution from entering local streams.