As a homeowner you can make a difference improving the water quality in our community and in your own garden by retaining rain water on your property!
Why is this important?
Every rain storm brings runoff from roofs, driveways sidewalks, streets and parking lots. This runoff collects heavy metals, pesticides, oil, grease and trash, and washes it into storm drains.
Storm water runoff is a major source of pollution to our local rivers, streams, and the Long Island Sound. In older cities such as New Haven, many household downspouts connect to a combined storm and sanitary sewer system. Heavy rain storms cause millions of gallons of toxic storm water to fill, then overflow the combined storm/sewer systems. The untreated sewage overflow goes directly into our watersheds, waterways and the Long Island Sound, putting our health, our natural habitats and wildlife needlessly at risk.
Following are actions homeowners can take to:
- Retain storm water on your property
- Decrease the toxic overflow
- Protect our health and neighborhoods
Disconnect your Downspouts
The simplest thing to do is disconnect your downspouts from the municipal sewer system and have your roof runoff diverted to be useful in your landscape. Disconnect your downspout and extend the end of it five feet from your foundation to send the stormwater into a garden bed, lawn, rain barrel or rain garden and cap the sewer inlet.
In situations where the property doesn’t allow enough immediate percolation, it can be necessary to install a catch basin below the surface of the lawn in a low spot to hold the water while the soil absorbs the surplus water.
Install a Rain Garden
Rain gardens, consisting of native grasses and plants should be located near downspouts or other areas that collect rainwater runoff in your yard. They prevent untreated water containing pollutants (i.e. pesticides, salt, fertilizer, etc.) from washing onto the road and getting into the sewer system, contaminating lakes and waterways. The plants naturally filter the water and break up the pollutants. The clean water will percolate into your yard renewing the ground water and provide water to nearby trees and plants.
Install Porous Paving
If gravel is impractical, porous or permeable paving is an excellent alternative to using non-porous surfaces like asphalt or poured concrete for your driveway or other hardscaping.
Permeable pavement has a number of benefits over non-permeable:
- The ground captures, absorbs, and cleans stormwater
- Overall better appearance
- Less ice and snow build-up
- Area remains cooler helping air quality and local vegetation.
- Reduces need for automated irrigation saving money and reducing water demand.
There are three types of construction:
- Poured porous concrete mix
- Permeable pavers, stone or concrete
- Paving grid of plastic, concrete or brick
Conditions vary, but New Haven area has good permeable soils on which to install one of these solutions.
Install a Rain Barrel
Collect rainwater and store it for future usage. By diverting water out of your gutters and into a rain barrel you’ll have free water to use for watering your garden, filling a watering can, or even washing your windows. Plants prefer non-chlorinated organic rainwater to city water that comes out of the tap. Be certain to cover them for safety purposes and to add mosquito dunks if you do not drain them in a week. Barrels should be opaque to eliminate the possiblity of algae growth within. Using a rainbarrel saves money, reduces stormwater run-off and helps your plants to thrive.
Trees capture rainwater and reduce water pollution; plant some in your yard!
Call before you dig 800-922-4455.
Learn more about planting right sized and species of trees here.
In New Haven, the Urban Resources Initiative (URI) will plant free street trees. Request a tree or for directions on planting visit here.