April Showers Don’t Just Bring Flowers

Stormwater flowing into a storm drain on a street.
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We’ve seen lots of rainfall this April, and these April showers don’t just bring flowers. Baltimoreans may be experiencing flooding, sewage backups, and other effects of wet weather.

At Blue Water Baltimore, stormwater is always on our mind. We want to share more about what stormwater is and how you can help mitigate its effects. 

 

What is stormwater?

In a natural forest setting, rainfall hits the tops of the trees and then soaks into the ground, filtering the water and replenishing the groundwater. But in urban landscapes like ours, impervious surfaces like roads, parking lots, and rooftops, keep soils from absorbing rain. 

Instead, rain picks up toxic pollutants, trash, sewage, pet waste and sediment along the way. This water then makes it way through storm drains, where it gets dumped into local streams, rivers, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. 

Lawns also contribute stormwater runoff; the shallow roots of turf grass absorb less than native trees, perennials and shrubs. The herbicides and fertilizers used to keep lawns green and pristine get washed away in a storm as well. 

In addition to the pollution of stormwater itself, the sheer volume of it overwhelms our old sewer pipes and contributes to sewage overflows in our streets and streams. Stormwater runoff is the fastest growing polluter of the bay. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help!  

 

What can you about stormwater?

There are some simple things you can do at home to reduce stormwater pollution:

  • Pick up your pet waste
  • Use less lawn fertilizer, or stop using it completely
  • Disconnect your downspout and let the water flow into the lawn or a garden (install rocks or other splash guards to prevent soil erosion)
  • Collect rainwater for your gardens using a rain barrel 
  • Clean out trash and debris from storm drains on your block 
  • Make a pledge through Clear Choices Clean Water today

In addition to these at-home solutions, we’re implementing more large-scale projects that filter larger quantities of stormwater. Some of these options require experts to design and install and can be expensive.

Fortunately, there are grant opportunities available through organizations like the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust

 

More expansive green stormwater infrastructure projects can helps us treat large quantities of stormwater. Examples include street bumpouts (pictured), bioswales in parking lots, and green roofs.

 

However, there are several barriers many homeowners and businesses face to try to get green stormwater infrastructure in the ground. We recently released a report addressing these barriers and how to make going green easier in the Baltimore region.

Help us spread the word about the benefits of green stormwater infrastructure to educate your friends, neighbors, and political representatives about stormwater runoff pollution and what we can do!

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Reagan is Blue Water Baltimore’s Restoration Manager. She manages our stormwater and tree planting projects and helps identify future restoration projects that improve the health of our watersheds.

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