Every time it rains or snows, the stormwater that falls on roofs, driveways, roads, and lawns has to go somewhere. Eventually, much of it will sink deep into an underground aquifer or flow into the ocean, but what happens to the water in between its landing and its final destination can have major impact on the environment. There’s a lot you as a homeowner can do to minimize some of negative effects that stormwater can have.
There are three things to keep in mind about stormwater when you work in and around your home:
Keep it CLEAN!
Stormwater can pick up soil particles, pesticides, fertilizer, machine oil and grease, antifreeze, detergents, leaves and grass clippings, litter, animal wastes, and other potential pollutants from roofs, yards, and paved surfaces. Making sure you avoid or minimize leaving substances like these where stormwater will wash them into a nearby stream or river can improve local water and habitat quality . Stormwater does not get processed at water treatment plants—it goes directly into local bodies of water.
Keep it SLOW!
Even a light rain can carry pollutants into waterways, so it’s important to allow rain and snow time to be absorbed into the soil. Stormwater runoff also erodes soils and carries the sediment to the creek, clouding the water and covering the creek bottom. This affects the insects, larvae, fish, and amphibians in the creek. When a large volume of runoff enters the creek, it can destroy the pools and riffles that are the habitat for these organisims. In your yard, strategic plantings, contouring, and other landscaping techniques can help slow the flow of water, reducing erosion and transporting fewer contaminants.
Keep it HOME!
Capturing and reusing stormwater run-off in a rain barrel or cistern will not only help the environment, but it can also reduce your water usage if you use it for such activities as irrigating planting beds or lawns.
FoCJC has been awarded two grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection to help Cabin John Creek Watershed residents improve stormwater run-off issues in the area. We developed four programs to inform and work with local communities to identify stormwater issues and potential solutions.
At the start of each Stormwater Management Program, FoCJC conducts an online Stormwater Issue Awareness Survey in partner communities about the need and methods for watershed protection and restoration. Survey results are used to inform a public education campaign that motivates CJC watershed residents to help the watershed. At the conclusion of the project, there is a follow-up survey to document any changes that occur as a result of the Stormwater Management Program efforts.
FoCJC is establishing groups of volunteer Creek Keepers who will support the watershed stewardship efforts of Montgomery County. We are seeking residents who live near recently restored segments of CJC mainstem and tributaries, and can meet periodically for such stewardship activities as removing trash and invasive weeds or identifying any maintenance work needed.
Rain barrels and rain planters can reduce erosion by temporarily detaining rainwater and releasing it slowly over time. Preventing erosion helps keep the Creek, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay healthier. Rain barrels have the added benefit of directing water away from foundations and collecting rainwater for garden irrigation.
FoCJC works with partner communities to promote rain barrel/planter installation, since these are often the only stormwater management technique that is appropriate for small lots.
FoCJC partners with CJC Watershed neighborhoods to educate residents about stormwater issues and encourage them to implement RainScapes projects on their property. RainScapes are functional landscaping projects that can beautify property, as well as help filter and slow the flow of stormwater. These projects can collect water from roof gutters, driveways, and sidewalks. One example of a RainScapes project is a rain garden, a saucer-shaped basin into which rainwater flows, and which is planted with grasses, flowers, shrubs, and small trees that are adapted to survive during short periods of flooding, as well as dry soils in between storms. RainScapes can be installed on any kind of property, but those on private residential, institutional, and/ or commercial properties may be eligible for a RainScapes Rewards Rebate from Montgomery County. Learn more at the county's RainScapes website.
If you are interested in finding out more about any of these projects, please contact the Program Manager, Tina Rouse, firstname.lastname@example.org.