Your local SWCD wants to partner with landowners for the sake of conservation. If you want to make a difference, it starts in your own yard. Whether you own a large lot or occupy just a small plot of land, we can point you to a handful of conservation practices that will benefit your property, your neighborhood, and nearby waterways.
All property is located within a watershed, which describes an area of land that contains a common set of streams and rivers that all drain into a single larger body of water. The key word to remember with watersheds is “Connection.” Everything is connected to everything else in a watershed. For example, your lawn is connected to the street, which is connected to the storm sewers, which is connected to a stream, which is connected to a lake, etc... Therefore, what you do in your yard has the potential to affect many other places. To protect one, we must protect them all.
In the illustration, arrows show the direction of runoff from impervious surfaces. Ideal rain garden locations are shown within the white and yellow lines.
Example of stormwater runoff on a typical property
There are a handful of conservation projects that landowners within towns or cities can apply to their properties.
Rain Gardens are one of the most effective conservation enhancements one could add to a yard. A rain garden is simply a landscaped area planted with wildflowers and other native vegetation that soak up stormwater runoff. Rain gardens are strategically placed to collect excess runoff from hard surfaces like roofs, driveways, and walkways. These hard surfaced areas are called “Impervious surfaces”. The goal of the rain garden is to absorb as much of the water that is running off these impervious surfaces, slowly filtering water back into the ground rather than running off into storm drains.
Why is it important to slow stormwater runoff?
Our lakes and rivers are becoming inundated with runoff filled with contaminants and nitrates that cause changes to the water quality and the lake’s natural balance. This effects our fisheries, our hunting lands, our forests and our farmlands.
Our properties produce waste and contaminants in several ways. Phosphorus from grass clippings and pet waste. Driveway/walkway salts become contaminants when they enter our waterways. Improperly disposed gas and oils find their way into the mix. We waste water ourselves at times by watering our lawns at ineffective times. (Mid-day watering is extremely ineffective. Water early or late in the day when evaporation won’t rob your watering efforts.)
By collecting leaves, grass clippings, and pet waste we can reduce phosphorus levels in stormwater runoff. We can be careful in our application of pesticides and fertilizers in the summer and sidewalk salts in the winter. Oil disposal stations are found in nearly every municipality. Collectively, conservation practices add up to make a big difference.