Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ten ways to protect water resources

The proceeding information was summarized from the Fall 1994 edition of Watershed Protection Techniques, Volume 1, Number 3 and was provided by the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy.

1. Maintain open, forested floodplains. (Filling floodplains shortchanges the filtering power of natural areas and increases flooding elsewhere.)

2. Plant trees and maintain stream-side buffers. (Stream-side trees and native vegetation help filter storm water run-off and help hold streambank soils in place.)

3. Promote clustering where new development is likely. (Clustered developments require less pavement for roads and sidewalks and keep more of the overall parcel as natural open space.)

4. Disconnect your downspout from the street drain. (Rainwater from your roof is just as damaging to creeks and streams as run-off from a parking lot. Let your yard help filter out impurities and infiltrate storm water back into your aquifer.)

5. Convert large yards or public spaces from mown grass to meadows. (The typical suburban lawn is nearly as impervious as a parking lot. Native meadow grasses infiltrate storm water better and provide critical habitat for grassland birds.)

6. Convert a corner of your yard to a rain garden. (A wet area in your yard can be considered a nuisance or an amenity, depending on how you manage it. If it's wet, look for native plants that like “wet feet" and create a visual focal point.)

7. Maintain a naturally vegetated edge between creeks and pastures or cultivated fields. (A naturally vegetated stream buffer will filter out excess fertilizers and pesticides from adjacent farm fields.)

8. Cut back on lawn fertilizers and pesticides. (Much of the fertilizer you apply in the spring flows directly into the local creeks because the grass is not ready to absorb it. Set your mower height at 3 inches and use a mulching mower to create a healthy, organic lawn. Fertilize only in the fall.)

9. Pick up after your pets and keep livestock out of streams. (Pet and animal wastes carry many harmful bacteria and possible diseases. They make creeks less amenable to native critters and require expensive water treatment for human uses.)

10. Keep your paved surfaces at a minimum. (Patios and parking spaces can be created with attractive pervious materials that allow storm water infiltration to the soils below.)

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