Stormwater Illustration

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is any rainwater or melting snow or ice that flows over the surface of the land to the nearest storm sewer, ditch, lake, or stream. Hard surfaces like driveways, roofs, parking lots, and even some lawns don’t let water soak into the ground. Instead, the water from these surfaces runs off into our storm drains, rivers, streams, and lakes and can cause flooding and increased streambank erosion as the water flows more quickly and in larger volumes.

Stormwater carries all the dirt and pollution like litter, debris, and oils into our streams and lakes. Even stormwater runoff from our lawns can contain fertilizers, grass clippings, pet waste, and pesticides. Too much stormwater entering our storm drains and ditches can cause backups and flooding, and requires additional infrastructure to clean up polluted stormwater.

Keeping pollutants out of our water is less expensive than cleaning the water, and reducing the amount of stormwater entering our storm drains and ditches will reduce the amount of flooding in our communities. Keep our streams, Lake Erie, and our drinking water supplies healthy by making some changes to what you do on your property.

Where does our Water go?

All of the water we use inside our homes goes directly to the sanitary sewer system to a treatment plant where it is cleaned and released into our streams. If you live in a more rural area, this water is treated and disbursed by your septic system.

How about the water from our yards, driveways, roads, ditches, and parking lots? Where does this water go? It is not always easy to see after it goes down the storm drain, but the rainwater that falls in our yard eventually flows directly into a stream or lake.

Why is what I do on my Property Important?

As cities and suburbs grow and replace forests and open space, increased stormwater runoff from our rooftops, driveways, and roads become a problem.  Stormwater runoff from developed areas can increase flooding, pollute our streams, and lead to costly community improvements in stormwater treatment structures, such as storm sewer pipes and ponds.

The initial pulse of stormwater from a rain event contains the highest level of pollutants and gets sent directly into our streams and waterways without going to a treatment plant first. This pulse is often referred to as the “first flush”. If each individual property can slow down and remove pollutants from this first flush of stormwater, our streams, lakes, will be healthier and our local communities can save money by lowering infrastructure development and maintenance costs.

While individual actions may seem like a small thing, collectively they can reduce stormwater runoff and benefit your community by:
  • Increasing the amount of water that soaks into the ground, recharging aquifers and groundwater-fed streams
  • Safeguarding communities from flooding and drainage problems
  • Protecting streams and lakes from pollutants carried by urban stormwater
  • Enhancing the beauty of yards and neighborhoods, and
  • Providing habitat for birds, butterflies, and many beneficial insects

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