By Joey Handtmann
|Rain gardens can be a wonderful way to spruce up your yard and fight stormwater pollution.|
Myth: Stormwater drains to treatment plants.
The vast majority of stormwater (and the pollutants it carries) discharges directly into lakes, rivers, streams, creeks and ponds.
|Construction runoff can be a major contributor to stormwater pollution.|
Myth: Stormwater flows only to local streams.
Stormwater can make its way to any water body by traveling to the ocean via the Mississippi River starting here in Minnesota.
|Sediment and pollution laden water is deposited from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo Credit: NASA
Pollution can be classified into two categories: point source and nonpoint source. Point source pollution can be tracked to a single identifiable source, like a pipe leading directly from a manufacturing plant into a stream. Nonpoint source pollution comes from a diffuse source, like stormwater runoff over a large area.
|The confluence of the St. Croix River (left) and Mississippi River (right) south of the Twin Cities, after the Minnesota River flows into the Mississippi.
Photo Credit: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Myth: The state should take care of all stormwater pollution.
Myth: No real solutions exist to solve our stormwater problem.
Fact: Plenty of solutions exist to combat stormwater pollution.
- Local governments may implement various stormwater management policies and rules.
- Rain gardens and infiltration basins can be installed in yards and next to parking lots.
- Rain barrels can be placed under gutters.
- Driveways can be converted to permeable pavers.
- Lawns can be converted to native plantings to soak up more rainwater.
Fact: Residents can make virtually no-cost changes in their daily routines to help.
- Sweep up or “mow-in” grass clipping to keep them out of streets.
- Clean up dog poop in your yard, even if its not near a lake.
- Avoid dumping any substance besides rainwater down a storm drain.
- Use less salt in the winter.
These practices, big and small, all help manage stormwater where it lands, which is far more effective and less expensive than cleaning up polluted water bodies.