We are surrounded by acres of pavement, concrete and “impervious surfaces.” It’s everywhere—on our roadways, parking lots, playgrounds, and rooftops.
When rain falls on hard surfaces, it washes pollutants such as bacteria and parasites from pet waste, and chemicals from fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, ice melt, motor oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid directly into catch basins or storm drains. We call this dirty water polluted stormwater runoff.
Storm drains are connected via underground pipes to nearby water bodies, and all of the contaminated water flows directly into local streams, rivers, ponds, and the ocean, untreated.
Polluted stormwater causes problems for local drinking water sources; recreational activities like swimming, boating and fishing; and aquatic life.
The simplest way to prevent stormwater pollution is to keep our pavement clean and redirect water away from stormdrains.
Here’s a few simple tips to help keep pavement (and water) clean:
- Always pick up after your dog and throw dog waste into a trash can.
- Dispose of household chemicals properly. Check with your local DPW if you’re not sure about proper disposal.
- Use lawn chemicals and ice melt sparingly and always follow manufacturer’s directions.
- Use organic products whenever possible inside your home and on your lawn and garden.
- Irrigate properly and avoid spraying driveways, roads or sidewalks.
- Pick up lawn clippings/leaf litter, especially if near storm drains.
- Maintain your septic system to avoid overflow of wastewater onto lawns.
- Wash your vehicle near the lawn so that the wash water runoff seeps into the ground and not down the driveway into a stormdrain.
- Drain swimming pools/hot tub water into your lawn. Never down a stormdrain.
- Build a rain garden to treat contaminated runoff.
- Place a rain barrel under your downspout to easily capture rain for use around your property.
- Redirect downspouts so that water flows into grass or shrubs instead of onto a driveway or sidewalk.
- Install a dry well in your yard to capture excess runoff.
- Use pervious hardscapes (like bricks or pavers) on patios, driveways, etc., to allow water to seep into the ground.
- Get a printable stormwater pollution prevention guide.
- Learn more about rain gardens.
- Get a printable rain garden guide and list of plants.
- The USEPA’s Soak up the Rain website is a great place to start for advice and information.
- The UConn NEMO website has useful how-to videos and information for homeowners.
- MassDEP has resources on regulations and permits in Massachusetts, as well as links to other sites
- NH DES has a Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Management that is a step by step guide to managing stormwater on your property
Contact NepRWA’s Environmental Scientist, Chris Hirsch, with any questions email@example.com