Residential Stormwater BMPs
Residential stormwater BMPs are “best management practices” used to minimize stormwater runoff. Runoff refers to rainwater that flows across the ground without being given time to soak into the soil. As this water flows over your property, it carries potential pollutants with it—fertilizer, leaf debris, road salt, etc. It is important to note- stormwater does not receive the same treatment wastewater does. The water flowing from your yard into the storm drain is rarely treated before it empties into a nearby waterbody. What we do on the landscape directly impacts our water resources.
Interested in implementing a project? We may be able to help with funding. Visit our grants page for more information.
A rain barrel can be attached to a downspout to collect rainwater for later use. This both minimizes the amount of runoff travelling across your property as well as promotes water reuse. The water collected from a rain barrel could be used to water a garden or irrigate your lawn. Designs of rain barrels vary and can be chosen to fit your home’s style. You can even make a rain barrel out of a trash can! Another option on the market is something called a “rain pillow” which can be placed underneath a raised deck to absorb rainwater.
Permeable pavement allows water to be infiltrated into the ground. The interlocking pavers are placed on top of different layers of stone which are able to infiltrate stormwater when it travels down between the spaces in the pavers. Permeable pavers can carry a large upfront cost and while they do require long-term maintenance to keep clean, they do not take up any additional space in your yard and can be a great way to incorporate a BMP into an already planned driveway or patio upgrade.
Redirecting downspouts away from impervious surfaces like your driveway, is a simple change with great benefits. Directing the downspouts towards your lawn or, even better, into a raingarden, gives that stormwater a better chance to be infiltrated into the ground and prevents it from picking up pollutants on the pavement.
Planting trees on your property provides a full range of ecosystem services. Trees provide a number of benefits when it comes to minimizing stormwater runoff. The leaves of the tree, or canopy, provide surface area for rainwater to land and be absorbed as well as slow down rain as it falls. The roots of a tree not only take in water but also create healthy soil conditions which promote better infiltration.
A cluster of native grasses and flowers planted in a depression, a raingarden is a great way to encourage infiltration and minimize harmful runoff. Raingardens are intentionally placed where they can catch runoff coming from your roof, driveway, or street where they slow down and hold that water, allowing it to soak into the soil. Another multi-purpose BMP, raingardens support birds and pollinators and provide beauty to your yard.
The traditional grass that adorns most lawns has a shallow root system that is not equipped to properly infiltrate water. Replacing part or all of your lawn with an alternative seed mix such as fine fescues, low-growing flowers, or native grasses can be the solution. These deep-rooted plants are better infiltrators and also hold soil in place, preventing erosion. There are many types of sustainable lawn seed mixes, including mixes aimed at butterflies or pollinators. Your lawn can change from a slab of “green concrete” to a multi-purpose BMP.