Solution to Stormwater Pollution
Are you aware that there is a difference between storm drains and sewers? Sewers carry sewage "black water" that comes from toilets and other household drains. It is sent, via underground pipes, to treatment plants. Typically, you do not see these pipes or openings.
Storm drains lead to a separate pipe system. Openings are visible from the street. They are designed to route rain runoff into large pipes that lead directly to major ditches, ponds, creeks and lakes. There is no treatment or filtering of this water before it reaches them.
Storm drains provide a direct route for non-point source pollutants like grass clippings, leaves, fertilizer, oil and pet waste to flow into our rivers, lakes and streams.
- Blue Thumb Guide to Raingardens
- Minnesota Stormwater Manual
- Stormwater Pollution
- Stormwater Pollution Solutions
- Lawn Care 101
New Blue Thumb Guide To Raingardens Available!
Have you ever wondered what to plant in that low spot in your backyard where the grass won't grow because water puddles there after it rains? Or how to fix the erosion gully where rainwater drains away from your downspout? Well, there may be an easy, attractive solution! Try planting a raingarden.
A raingarden is a garden with a depression that is designed to catch rainwater runoff in your yard, growing plants that don't mind getting flooded on occasion. Raingardens provide wildlife habitat and an opportunity to create beautiful landscaping. And, by soaking up rain where it falls, raingardens slow stormwater runoff, help prevent erosion and remove pollutants in the process.
You may purchase a copy of a detailed, step-by-step guide from the Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) for $18. For more information, visit www.BlueThumb.org or call the RCWD at 763-398-3078.
With the consultant team Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. and the Center for Watershed Protection, the 800-page document (1,200 pages with appendices) grew out of a collaboration between the 40 members of the Minnesota Stormwater Steering Committee, which includes representatives of state agencies, local governments, businesses, and a variety of environmental, educational and water-protection groups.
The Manual is a comprehensive stormwater-management tool that addresses the adverse impacts of stormwater runoff facing Minnesota water professionals.
The Manual guides professionals and newcomers alike through the process of designing sites that control stormwater, shows how to choose the Best Management Practices (BMP) for a site, demonstrates the impact of cold climates on runoff management and much more. The Manual appendix provides detailed Computer Assisted Design and Drafting (CADD) drawings for specific BMP.
The Manual public meetings are scheduled for locations across Minnesota.
Stormwater pollution from point sources and nonpoint sources is a challenging water quality problem. Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is caused by a discrete number of sources, storm water pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere.
Rainwater and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites and pick up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease, and many other pollutants on the way to our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Storm water runoff is our most common cause of water pollution.
Because storm water pollution is caused by so many different activities, traditional regulatory controls will only go so far. Education and outreach are key components to any successful storm water program.
It is your responsibility to make sure that nothing but untainted rain water flows from your yard into storm drains. Lawn clippings, leaves and other debris often clump, contributing to flooding in your neighborhood and that is only the beginning! Perhaps you only occasionally allow grass clippings, leaves and other plants to wash down the drains.
If you have used chemicals on your lawn or garden, they may contaminate the water that runs off from rains or your sprinkler system. Even non-treated lawn clippings do harm. When they decompose, they release carbon and nitrogen that feeds undesirable algae, which, in turn, uses up oxygen in the water, contributing to fish kills.
Community volunteers have stenciled this message by storm drains in your neighborhood to remind us to keep the streets clean.
- Dump No Waste
- Drains to Creek
Keep the Street in Front of Your House Clean
Clean up oil, pet waste, litter, soil, grass clippings and leaves.
Dispose of paint and other household hazardous wastes properly - never down a storm drain!
Stormwater is not treated by a waste-water treatment plant.
Minimize Water Flowing over Hard Surfaces
- Redirect downspouts in your yard
- Install rain barrels to collect the roof run-off and "green roofs" (rooftop gardens absorb rainfall)
- Plant native plants (deep roots absorb more water, provide habitat and help stabilize soil)
- Create rain gardens (low areas with tolerant plants to absorb excess water)
- Use pervious pavements (where the water soaks in) wherever possible
- Wash your car on the lawn or at a carwash - not in the driveway or street.
Did You Know?
30-60% of urban fresh water is used for watering lawns?
67,000,000 pounds of synthetic pesticides are used on lawns in the U.S.?
580,000,000 gallons of gasoline are used for lawnmowers. A 2-cycle lawnmower pollutes as much in one hour as does driving an average automobile for 350 miles.
How you manage your yard impacts water quality. Check out more information on Lawn Care (PDF) from the Rice Creek Watershed District.