Building a home is a dream for many adults. There are so many benefits to owning your own piece of the pie. But when building a new structure on an existing landscape, then it is important to bear in mind the natural flow of storm water in that area, and how breaking the ground might disrupt it.

Breaking ground is not the only thing to disrupt runoff. Adding driveways and pitched roofs just increases the volume of storm water runoff. As the water is redirected by these non-organic surfaces, it collects minuscule bits of oil, particles of dust, and other pollutants.

Some of the runoff may not even be from your property. For example, if someone builds a home uphill from you, then your property could suffer new patterns of storm water runoff due to the way building their home changed the overall landscape and topography of that higher elevation.

Left untreated, the polluted storm waters from the runoff gathers in our gutters and travels through downspouts where it deposits into the earth, travelling to streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and even the ocean. Negative consequences of residential storm water runoff include things like:

  • Pollutants carried into natural waterways, lowering the quality of water that wildlife depends on to live.
  • Debris found in storm water can build up to clog gutters and drains, which causes flooding around our homes.
  • Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos and other parasites.
  • More storm water runoff can erode away the surface of the earth, like banks along rivers, streams, and lakes or hillsides and cliffs.
  • If the water becomes too contaminated, then it can result in the closing of lakes and beaches.
  • Property damage including flooded basements, mold and mildew, or cracks in the foundation.

Laws on the local, state, and federal levels require residential home owners and property managers to maintain their own storm water management plan. The purpose behind these laws is to avoid adverse impacts created by excessive storm water runoff.

Ideally you should talk to a professional, such as a structural engineer, who can advise you on the best methods used to gather storm water runoff and distribute it into the subsurface where it can absorb naturally into the deeper layers of soil. This will help maintain the water table and add to the overall cleanliness of the environment surrounding your home.

These methods may include something like a channel that runs beneath the surface of a lawn or driveway, a catch basin and grate for low lying areas of the landscape or beneath a downspout, and special types of emitters to discharge excess storm water runoff to help comply with local regulations.