Where does the rain go?

Before development changed our native forests and fields into houses, driveways, roads, parking lots and megastores, rain evaporated, percolated into the ground, or made its way downhill, where it collected in streams, rivers and low-lying wetlands. These functioned as natural filters and habitat for aquatic wildlife, and returned rainwater to our bays and oceans.

Our landscapes were highly vegetated, and the roots of grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees played an important role: capturing rainwater, aerating the soil, and allowing the water to infiltrate and replenish local aquifers. The roots of our native plants penetrated the soil deeply, holding our fertile topsoil in place and accessing the earth's reservoir of water. 

So, where does the rain go now?

  • It runs off our roofs and driveways and patios and collects in low spots; compacted soils and shallow-rooted plants do little to aid absorption into the ground.
  • It races downhill from the neighbor's yard and heads straight for our basements, the ultimate in low-spots.
  • It flows out of downspouts and is directed down the driveway or perhaps straight into the storm drain, where it becomes "someone else's problem", blowing out stream banks and carrying silt and pollutants into our overstressed waterways.

What is a positive stormwater solution?

Positive solutions include recreating the systems by which stormwater would naturally be absorbed onto your property:

  • Increasing native vegetation
  • Restoring the infiltrative capacity of soils
  • Incorporating biofiltration practices, like rain gardens or vegetated swales
  • Replacing impermeable patios and pavements with permeable alternatives
  • Removing un-needed pavement
  • Protecting the root zones of trees
  • Harvesting rainwater for use or for gradual infiltration