Stormwater & You

Have you ever thought about the role you and your property play in our environment? Your behavior and the way you maintain your property affect not only yourself, but also your neighbors, our waterways, and wildlife. This is because stormwater that goes through your property also flows through your neighborhood and eventually reaches nature.

When rain falls from the sky and reaches the ground, it's going to either absorb into the ground, evaporate, or run off surfaces. The more hard surfaces on the ground, the more stormwater run-off. That's why your neighborhood, full of homes, streets, driveways, and other hard surfaces, can have quite a bit of stormwater runoff when it rains.

Diagram Illustrating The Water Cycle

Uncontrolled stormwater runoff can negatively impact our creeks by increasing the chances of flooding and erosion, and contribute pollutants picked up from yards, streets and parking surfaces.

You can actually do some things to control stormwater runoff and at the same time beneficially use this water for your lawn and garden. See the "What Can I Do" section for some ideas.

Proper Disposal of Waste

It's also important to remember to properly dispose of your waste.

Storm sewers are pipes that lead to nearby waterways. Stormwater enters these pipes through drains you see along street curbs. Drains can clog from littering, dumping waste, and leaving yard waste (e.g., leaves and grass clippings) in the street or on the curb. When waste clogs a storm sewer drain, this can result in flooding on your street or in your yard. Plus, any waste that makes its way through the storm sewer system ends up in nearby waterways, harming the habitat and wildlife that lives there.

If you have a stream behind your house, you may find it tempting to just dump your yard waste over the side of the bank or stack brush and limbs at the top of the stream bank. Be aware that this can destroy the underlying vegetation holding the soil in place along the stream bank. When the plants on that stream bank die, the water starts to erode the barren soil. Yard waste that's dumped along a stream bank also introduces a high level of nitrogen and phosphorous into the stream, and that decreases the stream's water quality and affects the habitat in the stream, downstream rivers and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

As the bank erodes, surrounding trees fall into the stream, blocking the flow of water and any other debris that comes down the stream. Water runs even faster through the newly developed bottleneck, speeding the erosion process even more. What seemed like a good idea to get rid of your yard waste now is threatening your property and maybe your home. A heavy rain could cause flooding at this bottleneck at any time. And, the eroding bank may eventually eat into your property. Plus, you've altered the environment in a harmful manner. Yard waste spreads invasive species of plants that can threaten existing native vegetation and the health of the stream. When plants decompose and create excess nutrients, this reduces the oxygen available in streams for fish and aquatic life.

Please, always dispose of your waste properly. Learn more below about what you can do to help prevent erosion, pollution and flooding.