Stormwater runoff is water from rain and melted snow that flows across the land. As stormwater runs through land, parking lots, roads, and driveways, it picks up contaminants such as dirt and bacteria. Eventually, the stormwater can flow into nearby bodies of water. This causes clean water to become dirty and polluted.
Pollution of local bodies of water is just one way in which stormwater runoff can pollute our environment. Stormwater runoff also contributes to erosion, flooding, sewage overflows, and poor air quality. Learning about the environmental effects of stormwater runoff is a first step in taking action to prevent it. The following is an overview of what causes stormwater runoff and how it can contribute to pollution.
What Causes Stormwater Runoff?
Ideally, stormwater should absorb into the soil soon after it hits the land. However, this does not always occur. Due to the increase in urban development, there are fewer opportunities for stormwater to naturally absorb into the soil. Instead, stormwater in more urban areas that lack proper stormwater management systems often causes water runoff. Water runs across parking lots, driveways, roads, and other types of pavement and into nearby bodies of water.
This is less of a concern in more rural communities as the water has more opportunities to enter into the soil before it is exposed to various contaminants. Due to the increased concern in urban areas, stormwater management has become more important. Stormwater management should include a strategically-constructed system that allows water to properly enter the soil or bodies of water without first becoming polluted by pesticides, bacteria, dirt, and other contaminants.
The lack of a proper stormwater runoff system often leads to flooding. This is because the stormwater from different areas often flows in the same direction, making it more likely that all that stormwater will infiltrate a single body of water. If the stormwater runoff picks up contaminants along its journey, which it most often does, then the flooding can cause pollution issues. The more polluted the stormwater that contaminates a single area of land or body of water the higher the potential negative impact on the environment.
Many think of stormwater runoff as a larger issue that homeowners are unlikely to encounter. However, the effects of stormwater runoff can directly affect residential homes in several ways. The lack of a proper stormwater management system can cause water runoff that falls from the roof and flows from the driveway to cause soil erosion around the foundation of your home, leading to expensive repairs.
Stormwater runoff may also affect your water supply as it can contaminate your local public water source or well. In addition, stormwater runoff can affect homeowners by compromising the soil quality of their lawns. This can make it more difficult to keep the ideal curb appeal or plant and grow flowers and crops. If flooding becomes a concern due to the stormwater runoff, then the standing water or moisture can potentially enter your home and cause water damage.
Another way stormwater runoff can affect homeowners as well as commercial properties is through sewage overflows. Since water is not able to absorb into the ground properly in more urban communities that do not have a stormwater management system, it can lead to an excess of water entering the sewer system drain fields. This can cause the sewer system to become overwhelmed. This may cause damage to the system that requires expensive repairs from a professional plumber.
Draining into Bodies of Water
The pollution from stormwater runoff often flows into local bodies of water. This includes lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and the sea, depending on where you live. When this occurs, the water quality is compromised. The compromised water quality can affect the fish that live there as well as the wildlife that relies on the water for drinking.
However, it is not just the animals that rely on these bodies of water. Communities rely on them as well — which is why it is important to keep the water clean. The fact is that stormwater runoff is not clean. Cars, driveways, roads, and parking lots are filled with bacteria, dirt, and a wide range of other potentially harmful pollutants. With all of these potential contaminants, stormwater runoff can present a risk to property and to health.
Affecting Water Quality
As mentioned, stormwater runoff can affect water quality for humans and wildlife alike, which can make the risk of illness much higher and even affect the population trends of wildlife. In fact, many types of freshwater fish are headed towards the path of extinction due to the decline in water quality.
In addition to poor water quality, excessive erosion can stir up dirt and other contaminants. These contaminants eventually find their way into the air. This can lead to a lower quality of air as well as compromising the quality and cleanliness of water.
Disrupting Food Chains
Stormwater runoff disrupts every layer of the food chain. It affects the quality of soil, which leads to suboptimal conditions for grass. Less grass, grasshoppers and other bugs have less of a food source. A decline in insects can affect the food source of birds, snakes, and other creatures. These conditions can make it harder for predators such as foxes to find food supply. This is in addition to the direct effect it has on animals who rely on a clean body of water for survival.
Call Stormwater Management Experts
Stormwater runoff can be detrimental to the environment and contribute to pollution. Although, the good news is it can be prevented through stormwater management services. Dirt Connections offers stormwater management services to all in the area who are concerned about the potential damage stormwater runoff can cause.
To learn more about our services and how we can construct, improve and maintain your stormwater management system, contact Dirt Connections today and talk to one of our professional stormwater management experts. Our team is glad to answer any questions you may have to help determine if stormwater management services are right for you.
Dirt Connections was started with one goal in mind: providing quality residential and commercial construction services to clients on time and on budget. Reach out for more information on how we can support your next project.
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