What is Storm Water?
When rainwater or melted snow does not soak into the ground, but instead flows across streets, parking lots, lawns, or other surfaces, it is called 'storm water'. In areas with hard pavement and roofs that prevent the water from naturally soaking into the ground, even a small rain can cause a fair amount of storm water.
Storm water, if not planned for and handled correctly, can cause issues such as flooding of roads, buildings and streams, erosion of stream banks, turbidity (muddiness) and habitat loss in the stream due to the eroded soil in the water.
As storm water runoff flows over the land and impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, curb gutters), it accumulates debris, oils, grease, leaves, grass clippings, pet waste, chemicals, sediments, and other pollutants that can adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged into a waterway without being treated.
Most storm water runoff is not treated for water quality before it reaches a ditch, stream, or river.
Storm Water for Residents
There are many things you can do to prevent storm water issues around your property that have other benefits too!
As storm water runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, curb gutters), it accumulates debris, oils, greases, chemicals, sediments, or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged without being treated.
Most storm water runoff is not treated for water quality before it reaches a ditch, stream, or river. However, there are many things that you can do to help!
The Montgomery SWCD has a variety of programs that will help you to improve the quality of the water as well as reducing the amount of storm water that leaves your property. There are also little habits that you can change that add up to big results. Many of them are very simple!
- Rain barrel: Install a rain barrel on your property. These systems collect rain water for you to use later, reducing the amount of storm water each rain adds to our waterways. The collected water is wonderful to use watering lawns or gardens on a later sunny day! You can order a rain barrel from the Montgomery SWCD!
- Keep the soil 'undercover': If you have bare soil in your yard or around your house, apply mulch or plant it to keep it in place. Protected soil won't wash or blow away. This makes for cleaner water as well as better growing in your yard and garden!
- Install a 'Rain Garden': No, you're not growing rain. Rain Gardens are landscaped areas built to temporarily hold rain water and allow it to soak into the ground slowly, instead of running off quickly as storm water. They are planted with native plants that like to grow in occasionally wet conditions and can be very attractive in a landscape! Are you ready to get started? The Rain Garden Guidelines for Southwest Ohio by OSU Extension and Rain Garden Manual for Homeowners by Geauga SWCD are great places to start learning and planning!
- Clean-up after your pets: Don't leave Fido's 'business' lay. Plan ahead on walks, pick up after your pet, and dispose of their deposits correctly. It may not seem like much, but each little bit adds up to a stinky and unhealthy problem!
- Wash your car at a carwash or where the water can soak into the grass: The soap and grime, as well as any oil that washes off your car will be filtered by the grass instead of flowing into the waterways.
- Fertilize only if necessary, and check the weather first. Nutrients not used by your lawn will fertilize our waterways, leading to algae problems and the potential for fish kills. The river doesn't need your fertilizer!
- Don't put anything down a storm drain: Only rain in storm drains! Storm drains are not cleaned, so anything that goes down them makes its way to our waterways.
- Plant native plants: Not only are they better for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, but once established, our native plants don't need watering and fertilizer like the non-native plants that make up most yards. They are better for wildlife and water quality!
If you are interested in partnering with the Montgomery SWCD or have other questions, please contact us at MontgomerySWCD@mcohio.org or call our office at (937) 854-7645.
Storm Water for Municipalities
The Montgomery SWCD partners with communities in Montgomery county to assist them in the implementation of their storm water management plans. Many communities in our county contain urbanized areas (as defined by the Bureau of the Census) and are required by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to complete certain goals in relation to storm water. These are known as the six minimum control measures. They are:
- Public Education & Outreach
- Public Involvement & Participation
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Storm Water Management
- Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
If you are interested in seeing how the Montgomery SWCD can partner with your community, contact us at MontgomerySWCD@mcohio.org or call our office at (937) 854-7645