Where does the rain go when it drains from your roof?
If you live in the city,
your storm water probably flows down your driveway or across your sidewalk and
into a storm water sewer drain. Depending on where in the city you live, it might flow directly to a river or bay. Eventually it all ends up in the
river or bay, carrying oil and gas, trash, household and industrial chemicals,
bacteria, heavy metals, mineral salts, plastic particles and other pollutants
with it. Heavy rains can produce abnormally heavy runoff that erodes channels
and banks, floods urban streams, damages habitat, property and infrastructure,
and threatens lives.
Storm water runoff can
alter the natural flow of a river, channel or bay. Changing the flow can
drastically affect water quality and the ability of stream or bay to support
fish and other aquatic life. Fish and other aquatic organisms may respond to
changes in flow in unexpected ways. Higher than natural flows can erode and
scour a stream or channel. Lower than natural flows can concentrate pollutants
and raise water temperatures, reduce the availability of oxygen and harm or
kill fish, or prompt invasions of exotic plants and animals.
The U.S. Clean Water Act
protects aquatic life by setting standards for local governments to protect
water quality, but that might not be enough. Water quality managers are
beginning to realize that to protect aquatic life and habitat they need to
better understand how the natural flow of a stream or bay varies in space and
over time. Communities, and even individuals, can provide a great deal of
protection for aquatic habitat relatively easily by taking simple steps to
reduce the amount of storm water runoff that flows from their property. You
might be one of a growing number of Oregonians who are using some form of green
infrastructure to keep your rainwater closer to home.
Green infrastructure is a
set of cost-effective practices to reduce storm water runoff. It includes features
such as rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavements, bioswales, green
streets and green parking, and techniques such as rainwater harvesting, planting
urban trees, and open space to hold storm water in place long enough for it to
seep into the ground.
Oregon’s Coastal Training
Program at South Slough Reserve is building partnerships on the south Oregon
coast to provide green infrastructure training. For more information about
green infrastructure training, call John Bragg (541) 888-5558 ext. 129, or
Oregon Rain Garden Guide