Let's talk about water!
There are two types of pipe systems under our feet: Wastewater Systems and Stormwater systems.
Wastewater Systems: pipes that carry sewage (from our bathrooms, sinks, and other household pipes) to a treatment center where the water is treated.
Stormwater Systems: pipes that carry rainfall runoff and other drainage. This is to catch excess water that is not absorbed by the ground. These are the drains that you see on the sides of the road and walkways. These do not go to a treatment plant - they flow directly to a nearby water source. Any chemicals and debris that washes down these drains goes straight to a waterway where it can impact environmental health, animal health, and even human health.
How can you help maintain your stormwater system?
Do not pour anything down these drains!
Keep the drains clear of lawn clippings, leaves, sticks, and especially litter!
Watch for leaks/drips from your vehicle. Any chemicals or oil that drop from your vehicle onto the road will be washed into the water system.
Stick to the recommended doses and uses for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to minimize the amount that will wash down into the waterways.
Pick up after your dog on a walk! Fecal matter is a huge contamination issue in waterways. Even if your dog pooped on the grass, heavy rainfall will wash it into the drain systems.
Wash your car either at an official car wash, or at home over grass/dirt, not in the street! Using safe car wash products is okay - did you know that there are actually organisms that will break down soaps and chemicals in soil? They won't get that chance to do so if you wash the water right into the waterway though!
What are some uses for stormwater runoff?
Roofs, parking lots, driveways, roads, and any hard surfaces create what is known as stormwater runoff. This is basically any water that isn't being absorbed by the ground.
While all of these hard surfaces have helped us live more convenient and safe lives, it has taken away a lot of the soft ground that would have absorbed rainfall in the past.
This is what created the need for stormwater systems, to help prevent flooding. Keeping these systems healthy and debris-free is important for everyone!
Did you know that you can reuse stormwater runoff in positive, impactful ways?
Do you like to garden but hate paying the water bill to keep it looking nice?
Rain barrels are an increasingly popular item for homeowners! By catching rain and then using it during dry spells you can help yourself save money while keeping your garden looking beautiful! This also gives you an emergency (non-potable) source of water to use if you have a well and your power goes out. You could use this water for flushing your toilet.
Don't care about gardening? Use the water to wash your car! Or your dog! Or camping gear! Or water your lawn during a dry spell!
By catching some of the runoff from your roof system you are also helping decrease the amount of fast moving water that causes erosion because it is moving too quickly to be absorbed by the ground! While gutter systems make it easy to install a rain barrel, you don't need them. You can find a V spot in your roof line and line the barrel up there, or hang a product called a "Rain Chain" from your roof to guide the water to your barrel.
From my personal experience, it doesn't take much to fill up a rain barrel with 55 gallons of usable water. We had one normal rain storm several nights after installing my first rain barrel and my barrel was over halfway full.
The best part is that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a rain barrel! Both Lexington County and Richland County offer programs to help homeowners get rain barrels for reduced prices.
The Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium hosts a rain barrel making workshop in the spring and in the fall. Click this link for details.
Columbia Water and Richland County Stormwater are hosing a rain barrel and compost bin sale. Click here for more information.