Stormwater Management


Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runoff is rainfall that flows over the ground surface. This occurs because of impermeable surfaces like roads and sidewalks that prohibit rainwater to seep into the soil. As a result, there are greater amounts of runoff in urban areas than in forested ones. And during times of heavy rainfall the soil will be saturated with water and thus can no longer carry anymore, acting as if it’s an impermeable surface.

These large volumes of water make their way into streams, lakes, and rivers carrying pollutants along the way. Pollutants can come from things such as construction sites, pesticides, oils, and pet waste. This contaminates our local bodies of water affecting habitats and possibly our own drinking water.

Image credit: neponset river Watershed Association


Solution: Stormwater Management

 Stormwater management are methods to reduce runoff and improve water quality. Its primary purpose is to detain stormwater and remove the pollutants it carries. This also helps prevent muddy water, flooding, infrastructure damage, and erosion during heavy rainfall. Along with green infrastructure, stormwater becomes easier to control and reuse enabling us to maintain/restore natural hydrologies.

Stormwater Management Practices


Green Roofs

 Roofs covered with vegetations. Allows for rainfall infiltration and evapotranspiration of stored water. This helps decrease air pollution, cut energy costs, decrease heat island effect, and create attractive environments.

The EPA Boston Regional Office is a great example of a self reliant green roof. It uses the rainwater it collected (and stored in a cistern) to irrigate (by solar powered pumps) its green roof.

Bioretention Area, Credit: Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc.


Rainwater Harvesting

 The use of rain barrels & cisterns to store rainwater for later use like non potable irrigation.

Permeable Pavements

 These are surfaces that allow stormwater to infiltrate through porous surfaces into the soil and groundwater.

Bioretention Areas/Rain Gardens

 They are shallow, landscaped depressions that allow runoff to ponds in designated area, then filter through soil & vegetation.

Constructed Wetlands

Mimic natural wetlands; They capture and filter stormwater and create diverse wildlife habitat.

Vegetated Swales/Dry Swales

Drainage paths or vegetated channels used to transport water, slow down runoff, facilitates infiltration, and filter pollutants as runoff flows through the system.

Curb & Gutter

Redirect stormwater to a stormwater drain, allows for infiltration and pollutant removal. These can be replaced by swales.

Vegetated Filter Strips (Tree City USA)

Bands of dense vegetation through which runoff is directed. These are effective for gently sloping areas, where channelized flow is unlikely. May treat runoff from roads and highways, roof downspouts, small parking lots, and impervious surfaces.

Trees, for example, are a great way to reduce runoff as they increase the land’s capacity to store water. As a result, they tend to improve water quality in streams and in watersheds, acting as a natural filter by absorbing sediments and nutrients carried by runoff.

Sand & Organic Filters

Runoff infiltrates through a sand bed to remove floatables, particulate metals, and pollutants. This is typically a component to a whole system of a treatment train that removes pollutants.

Riparian Buffers

A vegetated area along a shoreline where development is restricted. This prevents encroachment and protects aquatic areas as well as serving as a buffer for flooding and preserves aquatic ecosystems and habitats.

What You as a Homeowner Can Do

1.   Redirect downspouts and gutters

This allows rain water to be stored in a cistern or rain barrel, or be directed onto your lawn or plant beds.

2.   Mow your lawn less often

Try to keep them at least 3 inches in height. This will help with water absorption when it rains, thus decreasing the need for watering.

3.   After cutting grass, leave the grass clippings on your lawn

Don’t wash away the ones on your driveway, sweep them back on to your lawn. This allows your lawn to retain more moisture and prevent weeds.

4.   Rain gardens or have more plants

By integrating plants in an area that can soak in a pond of runoff such as a rain garden, you create a space that naturally filters pollutants. Plant roots and soil act as natural filters.

5. Clean up!

Keep your driveway clean of any leaks from your car with the use of cat litter to absorb any spills. Then dispose of it in the trash. Sweep grass clippings, soil, fertilizers onto your lawn, and pick up any pet waste to prevent any bacteria, nutrient, and debris pollution going into runoff and into the storm drain.

gutter 2

6.   Wash your car at a car wash

You could also wash your car on your lawn. This way the water that now contains dirt and pollutants doesn’t go into the sewers.


For more information or ways to protect our water visit Buda’s Stormwater Program page.