Helpful Ideas for Management and Control of Stormwater
Heavy rains can send litter, tree branches, and other debris flowing down our streets and onto the grates that cover storm drain inlets. This can cause stormwater to back up onto streets and sidewalks. While the Borough’s Public Works crew regularly cleans the storm drain inlets, it can be a challenge for them to keep up when there is one storm event after another. If there is a storm inlet near your property, keep an eye on it. If it is clogged with debris, you can lend a helping hand by removing the debris and placing it in the trash. Never dispose of litter or debris by putting it down a storm drain. Remember, storm drains are for stormwater only.
Spring is right around the corner. Grass cutting will soon begin again. Cut grass at 2-1/2 to 3 inches tall so that clippings can decompose easily in the soil. Spare your stream systems by avoiding spring fertilization and leave grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings supply 25% – 50% of nitrogen and phosphorus needs. Mulched beds trap and infiltrate more rainwater than lawn or bare soil. Top off you garden with a thin layer of fresh mulch, making sure mulch does not touch tree bark, which will cause decomposition to the tree.
Large trees are great for stormwater control. At maturity they intercept more than 1,000 gallons of rainwater each year. Topping trees can lead to the death of a tree. It causes the quick growth of dense, weak, upright branches called waterspouts, which grow so rapidly a tree can regain its original height in a short time with a dense and unwieldly crown. Topping removes a tree’s food production factory, its leaves and food stored in the limbs that are cut off. It causes a tree to use valuable food stored in the trunk and roots to regrow limbs and branches, and place a tree under stress and affect its tolerance to further injury.
Stormwater flow is also a problem in winter months. From December 1st through January 20th, our area has seen almost 10” of precipitation, with most of that rainwater. And in winter, with temperatures fluctuating between warm, cold and then below freezing, this rain and melting snow can cause many problems. Look at your property and see where rainwater/snow melt collects. If you are able to divert even a small amount of the runoff to a lawn area, it will reduce the amount of deicing salt that needs to be placed.
Urban stormwater runoff is the surface runoff of rainwater created by urbanization. Urban areas have more sidewalks, roads and parking lots. When runoff passes from these impervious surfaces without filtering, the pollutants in the runoff reach our streams, creeks, rivers, and oceans.
It is now time to take a look at your house and yard as you prepare for the winter season. Have you removed leaves and branches from the street that would impede water and snow runoff to the inlets? Check your roof and downspouts. Change the direction of the downspout to your lawn area or garden. This will reduce the chance of icing driveways and sidewalks during the winter months.
In the fall, homeowners continue to work in their yards to prepare them for winter. Here are a few tips to consider:
- It’s best to let the grass lay where it is. Use a mulching blade to cut your yard. It also helps with mulching your leaves too.
- With leaves, rake onto flower beds and gardens. Decomposing leaves is a great way to prepare these beds for spring season.
- As you clean up your tools for the winter, be sure to collect any liquids (gasoline, oil, etc.) and recycle appropriately. Do not dump into any inlet.
- Finally, as you are cleaning up and find miscellaneous trash in your yard, dispose of properly. Debris can go into your trash, but if you find bottles and cans, please remember to rinse, remove paper and lids, and then recycle.
Homeowners can unknowingly contaminate our waterways when using fertilizers on their lawns and in gardens. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Use fertilizer sparingly.
- Never apply fertilizer when heavy rain is expected.
- If you spill fertilizer, sweep it up and put it in the trash. Do not sweep the fertilizer into the street or storm drains.
Hurricane season is upon us. Did you know severe storms can cause trash and debris to flow into our stormwater facilities or drain inlets? Make sure your trash cans are in a secure location. Pick up and dispose of trash properly from your property. This will prevent unwanted trash to be sent into the local streams and creeks. If you see drain or inlet clogged with debris, please contact Borough Hall.
There is nothing like a month with not much rain to realize how important it is to garden with drought-tolerant plants. There are hundreds of beautiful plants that thrive in the on little or no additional water after they are established. These include Yarrow, Globe Thistle, Lavender and many ornamental grasses. Beautiful your yard and gardens and reduce your water use, and water run-off.
For a quick, easy, environmentally friendly weed killer, mix the items below in a clean spray bottle and spray onto your weeds:
- 1 Gallon Vinegar
- 2 Cups Epsom Salt
- 1/4-cup Dawn liquid dish soap (the original, blue)
Understanding storm water and how it can affect your money, safety, health and the environment:
What is Storm Water?
Storm water is… water from precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement when it rains or when snow and ice melt. The water seeps into the ground or drains into what we call storm sewers. These are the drains you see at street corners or at low points on the sides of streets. Collectively, the draining water is called storm water runoff.
- Rain is an important part of nature’s water cycle, but there are times it can do more damage than good. Problems related to storm water runoff can include:
- Flooding caused by too much storm water flowing over hardened surfaces such as roads and parking lots, instead of soaking into the ground.
- Increases in spending on maintaining storm drains and the storm sewer system that become clogged with excessive amounts of dirt and debris.
- Decreases in sport fish populations because storm water carries sediment and pollutants that degrade important fish habitat.
- More expensive treatment technologies to remove harmful pollutants carried by storm water into our drinking water supplies.
- Closed beaches due to high levels of bacteria carried by storm water that make swimming unsafe.
We can help rain restore its good reputation while protecting our health and environment while saving money for ourselves and our community. Keep reading to find out how…
Restoring Rain’s Reputation… What Everyone Can Do To Help:
Rain by nature is important for replenishing drinking water supplies, recreation and healthy wildlife habitats. It only becomes a problem when pollutants from our activities like car maintenance, lawn care and dog walking are left on the ground for rain to wash away. Here are some of the most important ways to prevent storm water pollution:
- Properly dispose of hazardous substances such as used oil, cleaning supplies and paint – NEVER pour them down any part of the storm sewer system, and report anyone who does!
- Use pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides properly and efficiently to prevent excess runoff.
- Look for signs of soil and other pollutants, such as debris and chemicals, leaving construction sites in storm water runoff or tracked into roads by construction vehicles. Report poorly managed construction sites that could impact storm water runoff to us.
- Install innovative storm water practices on residential property, such as rain barrels or rain gardens, which capture storm water and keep it on site instead of letting it drain away into the storm sewer system.
- Report any discharges from storm water outfalls during times of dry weather – a sign that there could be a problem with the storm sewer system.
- Pick up after pets and dispose of their waste properly. No matter where pets make a mess – in a back yard or at the park – storm water runoff can carry pet waste from the land to the storm sewer system to a stream.
- Store materials that could pollute storm water indoors, and use containers for outdoor storage that do not rust or leak to eliminate exposure of materials to storm water.
Why is Storm Water “Good Rain Gone Wrong”?
Storm water becomes a problem when it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants as it flows or when it causes flooding and erosion of stream banks. Storm water travels through a system of pipes and roadside ditches that make up storm sewer systems. It eventually flows directly to a lake, river, stream, wetland or coastal water. All of the pollutants storm water carries along the way empty into our waters, too, because storm water does not get treated!
- Pet wastes left on the ground get carried away by storm water, contributing harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses to our water.
- Vehicles drip fluids (oil, grease, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluids, etc.) onto paved areas where storm water runoff carries them through our storm drains and into our water.
- Chemicals used to grow and maintain beautiful lawns and gardens, if not used properly, can run off into the storm drains when it rains or when we water our lawns and gardens.
- Waste from chemicals and materials used in construction can wash into the storm sewer system when it rains. Soil that erodes from construction sites causes environmental degradation, including harming fish and shellfish populations that are important for recreation and our economy.
For a copy of this information click here: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/public/Bureaus/BOMO/raindrainbrochure.pdf
For more Information about how you can help click here: A homeowner’s guide to stormwater management
And to learn more about where all that water goes click here: What is a watershed?