20 Aug August is National Water Quality Month
August is National Water Quality Month and an opportunity to take a look at how you manage stormwater on your property. As it rains, stormwater collects on non-permeable surfaces and travels down gutters, along curbs and down drains. While it travels, it picks up a variety of pollutants like pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, motor oil and debris. When the water drains into our lakes, streams and reservoirs, it takes these pollutants with it. Creating a plan for responsible management of stormwater on your property is one way to help protect water quality.
Instead of allowing water to run down rain gutters and into the street, consider redirection. Water can be collected in rain barrels and used later to water your gardens. This solution provides you with the added benefit of conserving water.
You can also direct water into rain gardens, where water filters into the ground and is scrubbed by sediment before entering our water supply. Rain gardens are usually built in lower lying areas where rainwater naturally collects. French drains can be used to help direct water to appropriate areas. Often these gardens employ native plant varieties. Native plants are acclimated to the climate and the soil, requiring less fertilizer and additional watering. The University of Texas at Austin has a useful tool that helps you identify the native plant species in your area.
Use permeable paving
Permeable paving uses the same principle as a rain garden. Instead of collecting on the surface of a patio, walkway or driveway and running down storm drains, rainwater filters through the surface of the paving, through a permeable base and into the ground where pollutants and debris are naturally filtered out. Consider replacing your concrete patio or asphalt driveway with permeable clay pavers. Pavers are also extremely low maintenance, unlike asphalt and last as long as a hundred years.