What You Can Do
Slowing the flow of stormwater runoff on its way to entering a stream helps prevent flash floods and erosion of stream banks. It also reduces the amount of trash, chemicals, and nutrients that get swept into the fast moving water, eventually ending up in our streams.
Our partners have excellent tips for how homeowners can slow down storm water to keep our streams from flooding.
Install a rain barrel
Using a rain barrel can be a great way to capture water from your roof so you can reuse for your outdoor watering needs and helping you conserve water. This is especially helpful during a drought! Your flowers will thank you and you will be reducing your water bill and use of treated water outdoors.
It’s quite simple! Once you build or purchase a rain barrel from your local hardware or home improvement store, place it underneath the downspout of your home, office or garage. Each time it rains, water from your roof will drain into the barrel where you can attach a standard garden hose and water plants with your FREE water.
TIP #1: Don’t let the mosquitoes in!
To reduce mosquitoes breeding and avoid leaves and debris from filling up your barrel, install a fine mesh filter on the hole of the barrel where the gutter drains into it! One of the easiest ways to prevent mosquitoes breeding in your rain barrel is to use the water up regularly; emptying out your barrel regularly and having constant water flow reduces the periods of stagnant water reducing the perfect scenario for breeding.
TIP #2: Go dark
Lighter color barrels will allow sunlight to penetrate the barrel, which will encourage algae growth. Unless you want your water to be slimy and green, choose a barrel that is a dark color.
TIP #3: Need the water to reach across your yard?
Place the rain barrel at a high point in your yard. Water follows gravity, flowing from high to low, and the higher you put the barrel in relation to the ground, the more gravitational force you will have to transport the water further distances via your garden hose.
Build a rain garden
A rain garden is simply a shallow depression or hole in your yard with deep-rooted native plants where water can collect during and after a rain storm. Rain gardens are a great way to slow down the runoff from impervious surfaces like roofs and driveways and allow water to slowly filter back into your soil (groundwater). They are easy to create and they can be an attractive feature for your yard.
A good rain garden can capture and filter more than 40,000 gallons of stormwater every year.
For best results, plant native grasses, wildflowers, sedges, rushes, shrubs and small trees. Optionally add compost and river rock. For more information on what to plant visit the Cumberland River Compact’s Rain Garden Resource
Be sure to make note of the path rain water takes through your property, especially coming off of impervious surfaces like driveways, so you can put your rain garden directly in its path.
Remember it isn’t a rain garden if it doesn’t help capture rain water!
Direct your downspouts to your yard and plants
If your downspouts flow directly into your street or back alley from your roof, consider installing french drains to the backyard where plants and trees are located to allow the water access to filter back into the groundwater. You can also direct your newly built french drains into your rain garden ensuring that stormwater runoff from your roof has more time and space to infilitrate back into the ground!
Stream-conscious tips for yard maintenance
Fertilize only what’s needed and avoid placing fertilizer down before a likely rain event to avoid excess nutrient runoff. Excess nutrient runoff can alter the chemical ratios in a nearby stream which impacts health and stability of overall water quality, harms wildlife habitats, and may increase wildlife mortality.
Let your grass grow to stand 2-3” high. Grass roots grow stronger and healthier when the top grass is longer which reudces soil erosion from your yard. The longer the top grass reduces evaporation and protects roots from sunlight so you don’t have to put more grass seed down!