Tips for Improving Stormwater Quality
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Tips for Improving Stormwater Quality

All Roanoke Valley citizens can help improve stormwater quality, which will also help keep neighborhoods clean:

Be tree-friendly
One of the best things residents can do to improve stormwater quality is to plant trees. Tree leaves help slow rain as it falls to the ground, thus increasing water absorption. Leaf litter on the ground also slows stormwater runoff and keeps the soil surface looser, so more water can be absorbed rather than run off. Tree roots hold soil, preventing sediment from washing away with stormwater. And, trees cycle water from the land to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. As much as 10,000 gallons of water can be cycled through a one-acre tract of forest of moderately sized trees in a year. Up to one quarter of precipitation is cycled back to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.

Stop runaway trash
Make sure trash cannot blow or fall out of trash containers, so it does not become litter and wash down storm drains. Always bag trash before placing it in trash containers to prevent litter during automated refuse collection. Ensure that recyclables can not fall out of bins.

Bags are man’s best friends
Imagine the amount of waste that the Roanoke Valley’s thousands of dogs and cats produce every day. If pet owners don’t clean up after their pets, a significant portion of pet waste washes into storm drains. Picking up after pets keeps our neighborhoods and our stormwater cleaner.

Compost happens
Grass clippings and leaves should be kept out of streets, so they do not wash down storm drains. Yard waste can clog storm drains, which can lead to street flooding. Start a compost pile and turn vegetative waste into compost for your garden. Your plants will thank you!

Don't paint the town
After painting, paint out brushes on scrap material or paper, then throw away the material or paper in household trash. For water-based paints, rinse brushes in water, then pour water down the drain, where it will be treated in the sewage-treatment process. For oil-based paints, clean brushes with paint thinner, and dispose of thinner at the household hazardous waste collection day. Never dump paint, rinse water or thinner into storm drains or in the street. Leftover paint in cans can be dried and thrown away, or, leftover liquid paint can be donated to local organizations.

Soap up the car, not the street
For home car washing, park vehicles over grass to keep soapy water from flowing down driveways, into streets and down storm drains. The soil in your yard will trap and filter the soap, and the soap won’t harm your grass. Soap and detergents that run unfiltered into streams can harm aquatic life. Better yet, go to commercial car washes, which use water efficiently and drain used water to the sewage system for treatment.

Prevent motor oil muck
It takes only one quart of oil to contaminate a million gallons of water. When changing motor oil at home, take used oil for free recycling at service stations. Never dump motor oil in driveways, streets or down storm drains. Keep vehicles maintained to prevent oil and other fluid leaks.

A little lawn chemical can go a long way
When using fertilizers, pesticides or other lawn and garden chemicals, use only as directed. Avoid applying chemicals where they could be readily washed into drains, particularly when rain is forecast.

Don’t let your dirt get out all over the neighborhood!
Sediment is the most common stream contaminant. To keep exposed soil or mulch piles from home landscaping/construction projects from washing away in the rain, cover soil/mulch with plastic sheeting or tarps. Vegetate bare spots to hold soil in place.