Reduce - Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership


Stormwater Runoff

You should understand now that stormwater runoff is generated when rainwater runs off of impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, driveways, streets and parking lots.  You are making every attempt to prevent pollution, now try your hand at reducing stormwater runoff making its way to the closest storm drain.  There are several BMPs you can adopt to reduce your "hydrological footprint" or the amount of stormwater runoff your property generates:


There are several instances where impervious surfaces are directly connected to the storm drain system.  The primary direct connection is when downspouts are pointed directly to the driveway.  A simple fix is installing an inexpensive elbow onto your downspout and point your gutter toward a grassy area, such as your yard, rather than the driveway.  


Grandma and Grandpa had the right idea when they collected their rain in a rain barrel or cistern and reused it when it wasn't raining!  The use of rain barrels is becoming a popular practice once again - several non-profit organizations in Iowa sell rain barrels for fundraising - check with your local community, your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) or your local nature or conservation center to see if they have a rain barrel program.  You can also make your own with a 55 gallon drum, a few tools, a spigot and window screen - check out the directions here.  An average 1,200 square foot roof generates about 934 gallons of rainwater during a 1.25" rain and an average rain barrel collects 55 gallons of rain.  That means one rain barrel will need to be supplemented with another practice if you're goal is to manage the 1.25" rain (the Water Quality event in Iowa) that falls on your rooftop.


There are many BMPs that can be sized to infiltrate the water quality event and seamlessly incorporated into your landscape.  These practices include:

Soil Quality Restoration - reduce soil compaction and increase soil organic matter by adding compost:

Rain Gardens - landscaped depressional area with plants that don't mind getting their feet wet for a short amount of time.

Native Landscaping / Native Turf - native to Iowa that is, replacing turf grass with native grasses and plants (greatly eliminates your need to fertilize, mow or water your lawn).

Permeable Pavement - asphalt, concrete and brick pavers constructed on top of a rock base that allows rain to soak into the rock below and infiltrate into the ground.


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