When people think of storm water management, most of the time it is with the intention of protecting the landscaping around their property or preventing damage to their family’s home. Around the nation storm water management is also focused on reducing pollution, like heavy metals, bacteria, and sediment that reaches surface waters through rainwater runoff.

This type of pollution cannot be traced to one particular source because it carries from streets, lawns, sidewalks, gardens, driveways, and even entire fields or parking lots by storm water runoff. As residents of the planet, we have a certain responsibility to reduce how the storm water runoff affects our environment.

Storm water runoff occurs when rain or melting snow collects too quickly to absorb into the surface of the ground. This extra water then carries bits of soil, oil and grease, fertilizer, pesticides and other chemicals, litter, and animal waste toward open water sources. These water sources might include rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, or even larger bodies such as lakes or oceans.

You can help reduce the amount of pollution that flows into these waterways by managing the storm water runoff on your property and around your home. For example, you might install a drain that allows water to seep into a much lower layer of the earth instead of being carried downhill to a neighbor’s property or a body of water.

Another way is to reduce the pollutants that get carried into the runoff. Keep grass clippings on the lawn (even if this means sweeping them from the street back into your yard) as a way to compost the nutrients and naturally fertilize both existing and new growth. Keep litter picked up around your home. Always use safety measures when handling chemicals, and clean up driveway spills immediately.

Driveways, sidewalks, and other hard surface areas around your home prevent rainwater from seeping into the ground. This includes storm water runoff. Consider replacing your sidewalk with pavers created from a porous material that allows rainwater to soak through and then seep into the ground as it normally would. Because these pavers are more flexible than slate or stone ones, they are also less expensive to maintain.

Direct downspouts away from the side of your home. Allow water to empty out into an area with mulch, grass, or other vegetation instead. This will help prevent flooding in the basement or crawlspace, cracks in the foundation, and other structural issues caused by storm water runoff mismanagement. And when the runoff is flooding into your home, so is any pollution contained in the water.

If you aren’t sure how to properly manage storm water runoff to reduce pollution, then it is time to call an expert. This person can come out to your home, take a look at your property, and give a professional evaluation that both spots potential trouble areas and offers some possible solutions.