Storm Water Runoff Back


Storm water runoff is described as any runoff that flows off rooftops, pavement, lawns, and streets. It crosses an impervious surface picking up pollutants. These pollutants can be in the form of chemicals, pesticides, salts, sands, sediment, or fertilizers.

Storm water runoff mixing with clean water as it enters a pond

Storm water runoff is contaminated water that enters our watershed. The ability of runoff to carry phosphorus attached to soil particles contributes to blooms of algae and aquatic plants in the water supply. Sediment can also be carried into our water supply causing cloudy, turbid water that eventually settles out filling our ponds, streams, and reservoirs.
Storm water runoff can also carry microorganisms into our water. Bacteria, viruses, and other disease causing toxins can enter our lakes and streams and render them unsafe for recreation. Toxic chemicals from gasoline, motor oil, asphalt roadways, and lead from gas exhaust can kill aquatic wildlife. It can also impair their ability to reproduce or cause defects in future generations of wildlife.

As our town continues develop to we must be more concerned with storm water runoff.Storm water runoff not only affectsour above ground water supply, but our groundwater as well. Since most of Southeast depends on well water the effects of continued runoff would eventually impact the quality of water we drink, use to cook, and bathe in.

What can be done to prevent storm water runoff from impacting our water supply? We must try to preserve our forests and as many individualtrees as possible within any new development. The canopy of a tree slows down rainfall thus preventing rain from eroding the soil. The fallen leaf matter does the same as it slows rainfall and allows it to be absorbed into the soil. The soft humus layer under the leaves will also soak up rainfall thus preventing runoff. The planting of lawn areas actually exacerbates the problem. When tress are cut, leaf decay disappears, and humus is removed the net result is that rainfall cannot be absorbed and runs off the grass in sheet flow. This sheet flow picks up fertilizer and pesticides and flushes them in our water supply. When considering the impervious surfaces of a single home one must remember rooftops, driveways, walkways, patios, and grass areas. Often planning boards don’t consider the Lawn when determining impervious surfaces and unfortunately this leads to greater storm water runoff.

Runoff along a road in Southeast
due to excessive tree cutting.

Another important component of storm water runoff and its detrimental effects is the protection of our wetlands. Buffer zone encroachment is probably the single largest contributor to our loss of water quality. Buffer zones protect the wetland and allow it to filter out contaminants before they enter our water supply. Yet even with wetland regulations we continue to impact these zones. The granting of waivers continues unabated despite clear regulations against this. By keeping development out of the wetlands we can allow nature to cleanse and purify our drinking water. The buffer zones can trap sediment, filter out chemicals, and encourage infiltration of the water back into the ground. By utilizing the buffer zone we can actually turn storm water into an asset. Protected buffer zones are a win-win situation for everyone.
In Southeast we have enacted good rules and regulations, we just need to enforce them. Our community depends on enforced regulations and our continued existence demands it.

East Branch Reservoir

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