Why is stormwater management such a hot topic these days?
Stormwater is rainwater and melted snow that runs off streets, lawns, and other sites. When stormwater is absorbed into the ground, it is filtered and ultimately replenishes aquifers or flows into streams and rivers. In developed areas, however, impervious surfaces such as pavement and roofs prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs rapidly into storm drains, sewer systems, and drainage ditches and can cause:

  • Downstream flooding
  • Stream bank erosion
  • Increased turbidity (muddiness created by stirred up sediment) from erosion
  • Habitat destruction
  • Changes in the stream flow hydrograph (a graph that displays the flow rate of a stream over a period of time)
  • Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Contaminated streams, rivers, and coastal water
A CSO sewer system conveys both sanitary sewage and stormwater in one piping system (they serve roughly 40 million people in the US, a remnant of the country's early infrastructure found specially in older communities, including Central Ohio). During normal dry weather conditions, sanitary wastewater collected in the combined sewer system is diverted to the wastewater treatment plant before it enters natural waterways. During periods of significant rainfall, the capacity of a combined sewer may be exceeded. When this occurs, excess flow, a mixture of stormwater and sanitary wastewater, is discharged at CSO points, typically to rivers and streams. Release of this excess flow is necessary to prevent flooding in homes, basements, businesses, and streets, but the result is contaminated natural water bodies.

Storm water fees have been increasing in the recent past, as more and more local codes are requiring updated infrastructure for sustainable stormwater management. The old sewer systems cannot handle the increasing amount of rainoff caused by land development. While the biggest impact will be made by large scale companies and municipalities adopting new methods, small property residents can also contribute to relief the sewer system. Here are some methods that are recommended: rain harvesting, green roofs, downspout disconnection, rain gardens, permeable pavements, vegetated swales, etc.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/oaintrnt/stormwater/index.htm
Water harvesting
We have been blessed in Ohio with no shortage of rainfall. Our biggest concern is to manage excessive water levels. Other parts of the country are not so lucky and must save and reuse water because of continuing drought. Here are some terms we might be hearing about in the future:

Graywater – untreated wastewater that has not come into contact with black water (sewage). Graywater includes used water from bathtubs, showers, lavatories, and water from washing machines.
• Reclaimed water – water treated to domestic wastewater tertiary standards by a public agency suitable for a controlled use, including supply to water closets, urinals, and trap seal primers for floor drains and floor sinks. Reclaimed water is conveyed in purple pipes (California’s purple pipe system is one of the better known water reclamation systems).
• Harvested rainwater – stormwater that is conveyed from a building roof, stored in a cistern and disinfected and filtered before being used for toilet flushing. It can also be used for landscape irrigation.

What is a rain garden?
A rain garden takes advantage of rainfall and stormwater runoff in its design and plant selection. It is a small garden which is designed to withstand the extremes of moisture and concentrations of nutrients, particularly Nitrogen and Phosphorus, that are found in stormwater runoff. Rain gardens are placed close to the water source, such as a downspout, and serve to slow the stormwater as it travels downhill, giving the stormwater more time to infiltrate and less opportunity to cause soil erosion. If that downspout was originally connected to the sewer system, the rain garden is preventing that excess runnoff water to reach the sewer system, helping decrease the amount of contaminated water that reaches our waterways.

On the surface, a rain garden can look like an attractive garden, and even be part of a formal design. It may be incorporated into a larger garden or as a border,
and support habitat for birds and butterflies.

Source: http://www.lowimpactdevelopment.org/raingarden_design/index.htm

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If you have drainage or stormwater management concerns, please contact us to discuss the viability of any of these methods in your property.