We all live in a watershed. That means that what we do at home affects the streams and rivers that we depend on for our drinking water, recreation, and industry. Managing things at home and in our yards helps us to manage the river. Here are a few things you can do to help us reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality in the Kansas River:
Disconnect downspouts. Your roof collects a lot of water during a rainstorm, so why not use it in your garden rather than sending it down a storm drain? The Johnson County Stormwater Program sells beautiful Raintainers; you can also find rain barrels at many hardware stores, and if you are handy you can make one yourself.
Rain gardens are a beautiful addition to your yard and can retain a lot of stormwater runoff. Think about planting rain gardens to catch water running off your lawn.
Use native plants throughout your yard, they will need less watering, fewer pesticides and herbicides, and will have deeper roots to catch runoff.
Don’t pour oil or other chemicals down storm drains. What you pour onto your driveway, roadway, or into the storm drain winds up in the river, untreated. Oil and water don’t mix—please recycle your used oil.
Clean up after your pets—its amazing how much pet waste can accumulate in your neighborhood. By picking it up you can reduce the amount that gets washed into streams during storms, and that reduces the amount of bacteria and nutrients that wash into the river. (And would you believe there's even a directory of businesses that manage pet wastes? Commercial pooper-scoopers can be found online in services like poopbutler.com)
Sweep or blow your driveway rather than washing it off with a hose, and use a commercial car wash. This will reduce the amount of runoff that goes into storm drains. Commercial car washes are required to manage their wastewater with sand-oil filters to reduce the impact of washing your car.
Find Best Management Practices for reducing stormwater runoff. We provide a directory in our stormwater runoff resources section.
Here are a few things you can do to help:
Stop mowing within 10 to 25 feet from the edge of a stream—leave a buffer. This will reduce the amount of runoff entering the stream. Native grasses, bushes and trees act like a filter to stop sediment, trash, and pollutants from entering the stream. Plants also absorb excess nutrients in runoff, preventing harmful algal blooms in the stream.
Bushes and trees along the bank are the best way to prevent erosion. Leaving a buffer is the most effective way to stop erosion, since bushes and trees have stronger, deeper roots that hold the bank in place. Grass clippings, concrete rubble, trash—these are not good for the stream, they don’t work to prevent erosion, and they are ugly.
Reduce your use of yard chemicals and do not apply fertilizers or pesticides if you know it’s going to rain. When nutrients from fertilizer are washed into a stream they cause algal blooms, which are not only bad for the stream, they are also unattractive and smell bad. You can test your soil to see if you even need to add fertilizer. And needless to say, pesticides are definitely not good for streams--please do what you can to reduce use.
Native plants are beautiful, require less fertilizer and pesticides, grow well during dry times and need less watering…they aren’t as much work, they don’t cost as much money to grow, and they are good for streams.