Impervious surfaces include any surface that does not allow water to infiltrate into the ground; instead water runs off the surface and usually down a storm drain and directly into a lake or stream. Any materials that are on an impervious surface will be washed away during rain events and end up as pollution. There are simple things you can do to better manage your impervious surfaces to reduce the potential for water pollution. They include:
- NEVER dump anything directly in a storm drain. Not only is that pollution, but it’s also illegal and you could be subject to penalties and fines including cleaning up the mess. Only rain down the drain!
- Be aware of where storm drains are located in your neighborhood. Check them periodically and remove debris. This will not only prevent debris from becoming water pollution, but it will also reduce the chance that the storm drain will become clogged and flood during a rain event. The Macatawa Watershed Project has storm drain stenciling kits available. Contact us for more information.
- Have a spill kit handy and immediately clean up anything that is spilled in your driveway, such as oil or gasoline leaks from cars or lawn mowers. A spill kit should at a minimum include gloves for personal protection, absorbent material (such as kitty litter), a broom and dust pan, and garbage bags. NEVER wash anything off the driveway with a garden hose. Anything that goes in the storm drain will end up in a lake or stream.
- Sweep or blow grass clippings back into the lawn. Grass clippings contain phosphorus, the nutrient of concern in the Macatawa Watershed, so they will do more good in the lawn than in the water! Same thing applies to fertilizer.
- Wash your car in the grass where water can infiltrate or take it to a commercial car wash. Remember that water that runs down your driveway and into a storm drain ends up in a lake or stream, and with it, all the dirt and oil that’s washed off your car as well as any soap you use. Commercial car wash floor drains are connected to the sanitary sewer, so that water is directed to the wastewater treatment plant for treatment.
- Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste. Pet waste contains both nutrients and bacteria that rain can wash away into storm drains and our lakes and streams. Yuck!
Rain barrel workshop hosted by the Ottawa Conservation District, Sept 2014
- Considering reducing the amount of rain water that runs off your property by installing a rain barrel to capture water from your roof. Alternatively, disconnect your gutters or direct them into landscape beds or the lawn where rain water will have a chance to infiltrate.