Monday, November 22, 2021

Penn State Extension: Slow The Flow - Reduce Stormwater Running Off Your Property

Intensified rain events and increased development can result in many negative impacts to communities.

Pennsylvania was primarily forest at one time. It was named for its forests, and its name when translated in Latin, means "Penn’s Woods."

 In the late 1800's, Pennsylvania was one of the nation's greatest sources of lumber. Land was cleared for agriculture and forest products. By the early 1900's, only 30 percent of forests remained. 

According to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, forests cover almost 60 percent (17 million acres) of the Commonwealth today.

Forests provide invaluable benefits. 

They sequester carbon, clean the air, provide habitat, grow resources, offer countless opportunities for recreation, bestow beauty, filter water we drink, and help prevent streams and rivers from flooding. 

What a beneficial natural resource! However, land use changes, such as deforestation, have big impacts on the environment.

As development increases, natural ecosystems like forests, meadows, and wetlands disappear, resulting in more flash flooding. 

With more and more impervious surface, there is significantly more stormwater and less and less water infiltrating into the ground. 

With increased stormwater, there is more flooding, erosion, pollution, property damage, loss of natural resources, etc. 

These are significant problems, and everyone can take part to "slow the flow" and reduce stormwater runoff on their properties.

What can you do?

-- Clear storm drains: If you rake leaves and put them at the roadside, be sure to keep storm drains clear. It only takes a few minutes to remove leaves, trash, and other debris from a storm drain. Keep them free of snow and ice in the winter as well.

-- Plant rain gardens: Rain gardens are bowl-shaped gardens designed to capture water, allowing it to soak into the ground. They can drain water from roof downspouts, driveways, walkways, or other impervious surfaces. They slow and reduce the amount of runoff from your property, while adding a lovely garden feature that reaps the following benefits: flood reduction, pollutant removal, groundwater protection, enhanced wildlife habitat, and improved aesthetics.

-- Plant trees: Planting trees is one of the best stormwater management practices. They are the ultimate multitaskers! They clean our air and filter stormwater. Canopies intercept water. Roots stabilize the ground and increase infiltration. Fallen leaves absorb and release water slowly. They are a win-win!

-- Plant riparian buffers: Riparian buffers are the vegetated areas adjacent to streams. They protect the stream from suburban and agricultural land use impacts. Buffers provide a wealth of benefits including pollution removal, increased water infiltration, wildlife habitat, and stream stability. Consider re-establishing riparian areas with native trees and shrubs.

-- Convert lawn to meadows: Consider converting some of your lawn to meadow using native perennials and grasses. Native plants have more extensive root systems compared to turf grass. The plants increase infiltration, reduce runoff, remove pollution, and prevent erosion. Meadows are aesthetically pleasing and create excellent habitat for wildlife.

-- Install rain barrels: Rain barrels are used to capture and store rainwater. Water can be used to water plants, gardens, wash tools, extinguish campfires, etc. Be creative with water re-use.

-- Downspout disconnect and redirect: Make sure downspouts drain into a garden or the yard, rather than into storm drains or onto impervious surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks.

-- Pervious pavers: Consider using pervious pavers when constructing a patio or walkway. The thick stone base underneath allows water to soak into the ground.

-- Encourage change of local ordinances: Reach out and persuade your municipality to revise local ordinances to allow stormwater practices. Local ordinances may need to change in terms of required construction standards, protection of forests and riparian buffers, limitation of fertilizer use, etc.

-- Participate in litter clean ups: Several conservation organizations regularly organize litter clean-ups in the community. Come out and help reduce the amount of plastics and other trash from entering local waterways.

-- Educate others: Educate and encourage others to implement the best management practices listed above!

Stormwater runoff can affect the chemical, physical, and biological properties of streams, rivers, and lakes. 

Stormwater management has changed dramatically over the last several years from strictly flood control to a more "green" approach with a goal of sustaining and improving water quality in our watersheds. 

All actions start with personal commitment and action which can lead to community action. 

We all have a part to play to make healthy watersheds. 

Please consider implementing change where you can. Every bit helps! 

Healthy waters make healthy communities!

Stormwater Resources:

-- Stormwater Basics: Videos and articles to help answer your questions about stormwater.

-- Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater: A guide to help you manage stormwater on your property.

-- Learn how stormwater affects the Chesapeake Bay

(Reprinted from the Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Upcoming Extension Events:

-- November 24: Webinar Linking Surface And Ground Water In Cities

-- December 14: Webinar On Tips For A Healthier Pond Or Lake In 2022

Related Articles:

-- Northeastern High School Students Plant 1,200 Trees Along Hartman Run In York County

-- Armstrong, Indiana & Westmoreland Master Watershed Stewards Plant Live Stake Nursery In Indiana County Park

-- Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward Program Now Accepting Applications For 2022 Training

-- Nov. 24 Penn State Extension Water Cooler Talk Webinar: Linking Surface And Ground Water In Cities

-- Penn State Extension: How Concentrated Water Flow Paths From Agricultural Fields Impact Land And The Environment

-- Penn State Extension: Keeping Plastics Out Of Our Waters Is Pivotal To Improving The Health Of Our Waterways

[Posted: November 22, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner