How to redirect stormwater
When a storm hits, we all have a mental checklist – is the washing off the clothesline? Are the pets under shelter? Are the gutters and drains free from leaves and litter?
One thing most of us never consider is whether our properties have been designed to deal with stormwater runoff – in particular, in a way that minimises water waste and reduces the likelihood of runoff pollution and extreme flooding.
In this land of drought and flooding rains, it’s worth considering if you are doing all you can to handle stormwater appropriately.
In Australia, the stormwater system is separate from the sewer system, and is therefore usually transported directly into waterways and the ocean without treatment.
Therefore, taking small measures to reduce the level of pollution and toxins your property contributes to storm water runoff can make a big environmental difference.
Your garden landscaping can lessen the amount of sediment (such as sand and soil) that enters the stormwater system. Ensure gardens have proper borders that catch runoff, and that the type of soil in your garden (and soil depth) allows for good infiltration – sandy soils are much better than clay soils, which tend to become waterlogged.
Having appropriate drain covers that catch litter, leaves and other organic matter before they enter the stormwater system are essential – just remember to check regularly if they are clear of build up so they can continue to function effectively.
And of course, it goes without saying that leaving rubbish around the garden is a big no-no, lest it be washed into the stormwater drain.
Home design with storms in mind
Whether your garden is small or large, increasing the amount of greenery will reduce the amount of stormwater going through the system and ending up in local waterways.
Diverting stormwater with downpipes onto these lawns and garden beds minimizes water waste and naturally filters water – usually downpipes are directed towards the stormwater drain, so have a look at what position your downpipes currently are in.
Conveyancing and flood mitigation
Talking of downpipes and their connection to the stormwater drainage system – that is a perfect example of a traditional approach to stormwater management called conveyancing. It basically relies on catching stormwater and directing it straight into the stormwater system through pipes and drains.
However, this merely moves the water from one place to another and doesn’t actually work to reduce the amount of water going into local waterways.
Newer flood mitigation methods involve on-site detention facilities – these usually consist of large concrete basins built beneath driveways or pathways that catch stormwater. They hold the water in the basin and slowly release it to reduce the impact of local flood damage, particularly if a number of properties in a flood-prone area have them.
If you live in a flood-prone area, it might be worth investigating the possibility of installing on-site detention facilities – enquire through your local council about the regulations surrounding these constructions.
See the benefits
Reducing your property’s stormwater pollution has several benefits for you, the local area and its wildlife:
- Reduced likelihood of flooding and reduced severity of flooding events
- Cleaner waterways, including rivers, lakes and beaches – nicer for you to swim in, and more pleasant for water-dwelling animals and plants to live in
- Less taxpayers’ money spent on maintaining and emptying overflowing stormwater traps.