Getting Grounded With Storm Water Management

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – September 13, 2012 – Comment

If you are a faithful Dr. Water blog reader (and of course you are!), you will remember our recent post about American Water’s Environmental Grants program, and the highlights of some recent source water protection grantees. Today, I’d like to focus on another category; storm water management. We are deep within another unpredictable hurricane season, with storms popping up as far north as New York City. It is imperative for every community to have a plan for properly managing storm water.

In a perfect world, storm water would run off roads, parking lots, driveways, and other sites to be absorbed into lawns, the ground and ultimately filtered naturally back into aquifers or to flow into streams and rivers. For urban settings like most big cities, the water has very few natural areas to flow back into. Thus, the storm water flows rapidly into storm drains, sewer systems, and drainage ditches. While that may sound like a logical course for the water, in fact, mismanaged storm water can cause downstream flooding, habitat destruction, sewer overflows, and contaminated streams, rivers, and coastal waters.

American Water has given a number of grants to organizations committed to developing “green infrastructure” to properly manage storm water. Here are just a few:

Wabash Park Department in Indiana will be completing a 70-foot long vegetated storm water swale located within a parking lot for a new pedestrian trail along the Wabash River. The swale will capture and filter storm water runoff from the parking lot and nearby streets to prevent them from entering and contaminating the Wabash River.

Chariton County Community Foundation, with the help of the grant, will be building eight rain gardens in downtown Brunswick, Missouri to prevent run off into the Grand River.

Belvidere Environmental Commission is working to make sure everyone near them in New Jersey is aware of areas prone to storm water flows, and will assist in marking off those areas as well as beginning a wetland transition project.

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is utilizing its grant to run a community-based project to get everyone involved in better managing storm water, which will protect and enhance Harry’s Brook, in New Jersey.

Derry Township Environmental Action Committee will be hosting a Water Protection Workshop in Derry Township, Pennsylvania to educate residents and businesses on storm water runoff.

East Pennsboro Township’s plan is to improve the quality of waterways impacted by the Pennsylvania community’s storm sewer system and resulting storm water runoff by purchasing curb markers for its storm sewer system to raise local awareness about where storm water is actually going. The project will also involve volunteers from the local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other community organizations.

Has this list inspired you to work with your community on your own project? Don’t wait for a rainy day, visit the Environmental Grants program page now to find out how you can get involved. If you’re already involved in your own project, we commend you on doing your part to better protect the planet, and we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.