Home owners can think of watershed protection in three ways:
- Keep Storm Water Where It Falls – The ecosystems of Reedy Creek, the James River and the Chesapeake Bay benefit greatly when storm water run-off is reduced.
- Reduce Water Quality Impact – Any water that does leave the property should have as few pollutants as possible. Your contribution may be small, but the combined contribution from your neighborhood can be significant.
- Wildlife and Watershed Friendly Landscaping – Appropriate landscaping can help reduce run-off and provide needs for wildlife, particularly when native plant species are used.
- Take action in all three areas for the biggest impact.
This is Reedy Creek
Streets, driveways, parking lots, houses and most any other man-made structure are impervious surfaces. Rain that falls on an impervious surface must go somewhere else; most of it goes to Reedy Creek. This huge amount of fast moving water destroys aquatic habitat, erodes stream banks, and contains trash, oil from streets, pet waste, pesticdes, herbicides and fertilizers. The negative impact of storm water run-off then moves from Reedy Creek to the James River and oto the Chesapeake Bay. In summer, after a storm that washes fertilizers into the stream, algae grow rapidly. The algae then dies when the fertlilzers are depleted, oxygen levels in the water fall to a point that is harmful to fish and other critters.
How can you help?
Keep your storm water – There are two options: temorary storage or infitration into the ground. Every property is different, but these are the most common solutions:
- Collect water in rain barrels or a cistern for later use.
- Divert water from downspouts to a vegetated areas. This is especially beneficial if a downspout empties water onto an impervious surface allowing water to go directly to a storm drain. Example: down the driveway to the street,
- If possible, reduce the amount of impervious surface.
- Reduce the amount of lawn. (Areas vegetated with perennials, shrubs and trees retain more water than grassy areas.)
Reduce Water Quality Impact – Regardless of the efforts made to keep storm water some run-off will occur from most urban properties. water will carry anything on the ground into our streams.
- Eliminate the use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
- Eliminate or reduce the use of chemical fertlilzers.
- Clean up after your pet.
- Mulch or vegetate areas where soil is bare. Sediment, although completely natural, is a major pollutant in streams. Sediment covers aquatic vegetation, blocking light and fills spaces in rocky streams (like Reedy Creek), eliminating habitat disrupting food webs.
Create Wildlife and Watershed Friendly Landscaping – Appropriate landscaping can help reduce run-off and provide needs for wildlife, particularly when native species are used.
- Decide how much lawn is needed for leisure activities and replace the rest with other plants.
- Remove non-native plants that are known to be invasive species.
- When adding plants to the landscape choose species native to this area.
- Don’t discard your autumn leaves. Using them as a much will create a fertile and water retentive soil.
- Create layers in the landscape by planting a variety of perennials, shrubs, and trees; include decicious and evergreen species. Layers increase food and habitat for wildlike and are more effective in retaining rain water. Even leaf litter on the ground functions as habitat!
- Plant trees. They are the best watershed protectors ever invented.
The following links help you dive deeper into the world of watershed protection. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stormwater – The root of all watershed evils!
- Native Plant Center
- Bringing Nature Home Information about why we should use native plants in our gardens. The site has a link to a radio talk show that is very good. Also, the book, Bringing Nature Home is highly recommended; it gets five stars!
- Native Plants versus Cultivars
- Links for Invasive Plants, Native Plants and Habitat Restoration by Local Volunteer Organizations.