Reducing Stormwater Runoff: Great Ideas

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Categories: Regional news,Sustainability

Stormwater, rain garden, wiki

Example of a large raingarden that integrates stormwater runoff treatment with planting features in a residential neighborhood.

Hats off to Arlington County, Va., for encouraging more property owners to reduce stormwater runoff. Through the innovative StormwaterWise Landscape program, property owners receive matching grants when they take actions that significantly reduce runoff flowing over their land.

Why is this important? Stormwater carries pollutants to our local streams, like lawn chemicals, fertilizers, antifreeze, oil, heavy metals, and bacteria from failing septic systems and pet waste. Excessive runoff can flood and damage property, flood septic system drainfields, erode stream channels, and damage or destroy fish and wildlife habitat. And, when less water soaks into the ground, drinking water supplies are not replenished and streams and wetlands are not recharged, which can lead to water shortages.

stormwater, pervious paver system, wiki

Modular paver blocks serve as pervious commercial parking lot.

People who implement practices on their property that collect stormwater or slow the flow of stormwater are allowing more water to soak into the ground. And last year, Arlington’s StormwaterWise Landscape program hit a milestone with 150 completed projects. These property owners removed pavement, created raingardens, installed pervious driveways and patios, and initiated other projects to conserve landscapes and reduce stormwater runoff. Congratulations!

Through the program, County staff conduct stormwater assessments at each participant’s property and produces a written report listing site-specific recommendations for reducing stormwater runoff. The maximum reimbursement for a residential participants is $2,500.

If you happen to live in Arlington, applications for the 2017 program are being accepted through April 30, 2017. Eligible applicants include single-family homeowners, businesses, houses of worship, and homeowners associations. The program selects 40 residential applicants and 10 non-residential applicants through a lottery system.  For more information, visit StormwaterWise Landscape.

Are you aware of innovative environmental programs in your city or town that could be replicated in other locations across the Mid-Atlantic region? Let us know and we’ll help spread the word!

Author: John Gunn

John is the owner and publisher of Mid-Atlantic Gardener, LLC. John is an active Master Gardener through the Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech, a member of the Virginia Native Plant Society, a recipient of two USDA Graduate School certificates, in horticulture and landscape design, a former "shrubber" at Merrifield Garden Center, a two-term council chair for Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the owner of a thriving gardening and design business since 2010. John received his master's degree in marketing from Johns Hopkins University and spent 20 years developing marketing plans, strategies and brands for national nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. market prior to following his passion for gardening and sustainable landscapes.