Stormwater: Keep it Clean
Summertime in Texas! One of our favorite ways to cool down on these long, hot summer days is to head to the river or lake.
Rivers and lakes depend on surrounding land (the watershed) for water supply. When the watershed is vegetated, rainfall can soak into the ground and be filtered prior to entering a water body. When the watershed is developed, impervious surfaces such as roofs, roads, and parking lots hinder the absorption of rainwater, causing it to become stormwater runoff. Disturbed land, such as during construction and agriculture, expose the soil, allowing sediment and pollutants to be rapidly transported from a site during a rain event. Because this stormwater runoff cannot be absorbed, it travels along streets and picks up pollutants, sediment, nutrients, and pesticides and deposits them into water bodies unfiltered.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulates stormwater runoff from municipal, industrial and construction sites to maintain the water quality and reduce the pollutant loads entering water bodies. TCEQ requires the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to treat impacted stormwater prior to discharge to water bodies. These BMPs include berms and swales to redirect the stormwater away from disturbed/impervious areas; ponds to hold and treat accumulated stormwater; and silt fencing, rock berms, and native vegetation to filter the runoff water prior to discharge.
Stormwater pollutants are not just industrial. Homeowners can reduce their pollutant load by incorporating the following suggestions:
- Use fewer pesticides/fertilizers on lawns
- Avoid overwatering lawns
- Pick up pet waste and trash
- Use a rain barrel to reduce the amount of runoff from your property, as well as conserving water in times of drought
- Use porous surfaces like gravel or pavers in place of asphalt or concrete
- Redirect home downspouts onto grass or gravel rather than paved driveways or sidewalks
- Maintain your automobile and repair leaks, and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries appropriately
- Visit TakeCareOfTexas.org for more ideas
Areas of Texas are rapidly developing, and it is the job of every Texan to help maintain our water quality so we can all enjoy a day at our favorite water hole!