The Urban Stormwater effect

When it rains, it pours and we have all been affected by the pouring effect of stormwater.  The following diagram illustrates the stormwater cycle in a natural environment:


 Now compare that to the diagram of an urban stormwater cycle:

For the remainder of this post, let's focus on the percentage difference of runoff in each diagram. Whether we realize it or not, we have modified the nature's cycle.  There are many factors adding to the "pouring" effect of rainfall trends.  Factors such as impervious surfaces (driveways, parking lots), developing within floodplains or along side a stream channel, removing streamside vegetation, stream channelization (the straightening of a stream), or enclosing a stream within a pipe all have negative impacts on landowners and water quality.  However, this does not have to be a dooms day sentence for property owners or community officials! There are many things YOU and your communities can do to lessen the impact of stormwater:
  • If you live in zoned community, encourage the use and implementation of riparian setbacks;
  • Encourage developers to incorporate green infrastructure stormwater measures in their  projects;
  • Establish a rain garden on residential property;
  • If you live adjacent to a stream establish a no mow area.
  • Keep your streets free of excess nutrients (grass clippings, leaves, fertilizers) by sweeping up after your yard work.  (check out Franklin Soil and Water's "Get Grassy" program for more yard tips).
 Explore AWARE's blogsite and our members materials, under "Partnering Agency Projects" or "Publications", form more information about how you can personally lighten the load.

Remember, everything rainfall touches is carried into a nearby stream.  Oil, sediment, trash, fertilizer, animal waste are all pushed directly into a near by stream or into the stormdrain system that transports stormwater INTO a nearby stream!