Stormwater Management at Home
What can I do to help?
Although advocating for green infrastructure installations at a municipal and governmental level is an important piece of addressing stormwater runoff issues, there are many ways you can help at home! Pollution entering our nearby water bodies via storm drains and impervious surfaces comes from many sources, and residential runoff is a significant contributor.
There are many ways you can help by making small behavioral changes, and there are also positive additions you can make to your yard to not only pollute less, but positively impact the ecosystems that surround you!
YARD & GARDEN
Reduce fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide use
Fertilizers contain nutrients that, in excess, provide the perfect conditions for toxic cyanobacteria to bloom in water bodies.
Cyanobacteria can be harmful to humans, pets, and can also cause eutrophication, leading to the death of aquatic plants and animals who rely on clean, oxygenated water to survive.
Consider lawn alternatives such as native groundcover plants.
Increase pervious cover in your yard
Pervious surfaces like gardens, plantings, or groundcover help water stay in your yard and off of the streets. You can also install permeable pavers in areas like driveways or walkways.
Rain gardens are specifically designed to capture and filter rain water that would otherwise run off. Here is a resource from Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management that contains lots of helpful information on rain gardens, as well as a guide on properly sizing it.
Avoid the use of invasive plants, plant natives instead
Rhode Island is one of the few states that does not prohibit the commercial sale of invasive plants. Invasive plants spread and outcompete beneficial native plants. Here is a guide from the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society about common invasives.
Natives also provide food and habitat to wildlife, are lower-maintenance, and can be just as beautiful and eye-catching as common non-native ornamental plants. Check out this plant finder tool from the Native Plant Trust for plants that best suit your conditions.
Employ no-till methods in your garden
Add layers of organic matter and compost that decompose over time and allow beneficial microbes and fungi to support your plants
Use car washes if possible, or wash on a pervious surface
Detergents are harmful to water bodies; car washes dispose of these materials properly.
Address oil or fluid leaks
These run straight into a storm drain if they accumulate in your driveway!
Keep your driveway clear
Grass clippings, leaves, and debris clog storm drains and pollute water with nutrients and fertilizers.
OTHER AT HOME PRACTICES
Divert your downspout, or connect it to a rain barrel
Prevent that water from flowing onto an impervious surface! Rain barrel assembly is easy, and rain can be used to water non-edible garden plants or natives. Below is a video from the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District about how to build a rain barrel. To install one, you will also need what is called a "retrofit kit" - kits can easily be found for sale online!
Pick up trash and pet waste, and don’t pour anything other than clean water down storm drains
Attend or organize clean-ups
In your neighborhoods, nearby freshwater bodies, or beaches. Get involved by volunteering with a local environmental organization!
Read the Bay-Friendly Living Guide from our partners at Save the Bay
A great downloadable resource that discusses many strategies for making stormwater management at home count. Click here to view and download the Bay Friendly Living document!