Stormwater management is something that everyone – from local authorities down to every single homeowner should know about. It is essential in many ways, from protecting commercial and residential properties to reducing environmental pollution, and preventing flooding and land erosion.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is runoff water that flows over the land instead of being absorbed by the ground. It originates from heavy rainfall or snow melt, running over land to the nearest lake, streams, sea, or ocean. Hundreds of years ago, stormwater is not an issue as most lands are capable of absorbing it. Stormwater simply soaks into the soil and evaporates. In a natural area, such as a forest, the soil absorbs considerable amount of rain or snow melt while plants and trees hold water close to where it falls so very little runs off. Meanwhile, grass and woodland, rainfall drains slowly into the streams and rivers.

But as population grows, cities expand, and urbanization and development take place, stormwater has become a huge problem. Now there are smaller woodlands and larger areas of concrete surfaces which don’t hold runoff water. Instead, it goes right through the storm drainage systems, into the streams, rivers and lakes, no longer going through the natural course of infiltration, filtering and evaporation.

Stormwater has massive negative effects to humans, animals, and the environment. That runoff water flowing from the streets, rooftops, lawns, and farmland carries with it all sorts of things – salt, leaves, dirt, pesticides and fertilizers, chemicals, and so much more that contaminate nearby waterways, including sources of clean, drinking water.

Stormwater Management: 3 Principles for Homeowners

1) Stormwater Management is Everybody’s Business
Stormwater management is an environmental responsibility of everyone, not just the local authorities. Every homeowner should learn about what stormwater is and how it affects the environment, as well as their health and safety. With majority of flooding cases triggered by stormwater, awareness is the key to prevent the awful consequences of stormwater.

The streams, lakes, seas, and groundwater play an important role in our quality of life. But without the collective efforts from the government and the people, these essential water sources could become vulnerable to pollution.

2) Prevention is the Key
There are many things that homeowners can do to help manage stormwater and keep waterways clean and healthy:

  • Observe proper trash disposal and maintain cleanliness in your front yard. Regularly pick up trash and debris from the gutters.
  • Avoid using water to hose-off sidewalks and driveways, rather, use a broom and collect the debris. Put them in designated containers or trash bags.
  • Minimize stormwater runoffs by building a rain garden, mulching flower beds, and keeping lawns thick and healthy. Avoid dumping grass clippings into waterways or storm sewers. Planting at least one tree in your lawn greatly helps too.

3) Flood Prevention Control is Important
Excessive stormwater runoff can cause flooding. Learning about ways to prevent flood water from damaging your property and endangering your health is very important. Consider these tips to manage stormwater runoff and flooding in your home:

  • Use plastic sheeting or waterproof tarps to keep floodwater out. They can be installed on exterior walls, doors, windows, landscapes, and outdoor furniture and structures, as a temporary protection.
  • Set up temporary barriers to prevent flood water from entering your home.
  • Ensure to have one or more sump areas to discharge water the seeps in.
  • The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes recommends the use of gate valves. These provide stronger seals, automatically opening to allow water to flow out and then closes when water tries to get in.
  • Create an evacuation plan in case flooding becomes hard to control.
  • Enlist professional help with flood damage restoration. Make use of tools and equipment that helps speed up the cleanup and drying process, such as air movers. Too much moisture can cause rotting and mold build-up which takes more time and money to repair.

Stormwater poses serious risk to the environment and people’s health. Many of our water pollution problems are caused by the pollutants that are washed off from lands by storm. Learning about ways to reduce stormwater runoff is one of the best ways homeowners can do to respond to this growing concern.

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