This stormy fall is a good time to think about “stormwater runoff.”
First of all, where does the rain go after it falls? Well, that depends on where it lands. When rain falls on natural areas, it can percolate through the ground replenishing our groundwater supply. When it falls on paved roads, building roofs, parking lots, driveways, and even managed turf areas, it often becomes “stormwater runoff,” meaning this water from a storm runs off the land usually toward a water body, like the Peconic Estuary.
Stormwater runoff on its own is not necessarily a problem; the problem arises when this runoff picks up potential pollutants as it heads towards the bay. For example, it may pick up oil and gasoline that has leaked from cars onto roadways, or fertilizer and pesticides from lawns and homes. As these pollutants enter our local waterways, they can make the water less habitable for plants and animals.
As development has expanded around the Peconic Estuary, stormwater runoff has increased making it a concern for local water quality. However, there are many things we can do to help. We can reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers and pesticides in our yards, eliminate car leaks, and give stormwater a chance to percolate into the ground.
Group for the East End educators in partnership with the Peconic Estuary Program have worked with many community groups and school students to develop rain gardens, or small planted depressions that allow water to be absorbed into the ground. We have also worked with school and community groups to label storm drains in order to remind people not to dump anything in them as they connect directly to our bays.
If you or your group are interested in a project that will help you and others learn about and improve stormwater runoff issues, please contact me and we will be happy to help you protect the bay!