What Is Stormwater Management?
We all know that water falls from the sky in some form when it storms. But what, exactly, is stormwater? It’s the runoff from paved and other impenetrable surfaces that contributes to negative consequences for lakes, rivers, streams, and reservoirs in California. NexGen works to control the runoff of precipitation to help us maintain the quality of our environment and the natural resources around us. Controlling this runoff is called stormwater management, and there are several ways to do this. First, we need to understand exactly why we must keep stormwater from inundating our environment. This helps people understand why everyone, even developers and builders, are responsible for stormwater management.
Our California waterways are our precious resources. Stormwater management keeps environmental waste from getting into our waterways. It can cost a lot of money in lawsuits and damages that need to be paid because pollutants are carried into rivers and streams. These bodies of water will need to be cleaned up, which costs even more. Then there are payments for property damages, loss of life, and water quality issues that can come from an increase in stormwater. Rebuilding after disaster is dismaying. Stormwater management is an issue that is crucial for the health and safety of every individual in the community.
What, Exactly, Is the Purpose of Stormwater Management?
Minimizing stormwater damage can be done by controlling the runoff of precipitation from any surfaces that might be impervious to water. Examples of these types of surfaces include roofs and roads. It is NexGen’s aim to keep stormwater from inundating the soil and doing damage, and things like catch basins and storm sewer pipes will contain and move the runoff to the areas where it can be safely released with as little harm to the environment as possible. NexGen knows that doing this reduces the flooding of streams, keeps rainwater from flooding adjacent properties, and reduces most damages to utilities and roads.
Stormwater management in California also keeps dangerous pollutants from running off of the roads, into the soil, and damaging the ecosystem. It keeps the pollution in runoff from getting to local waterways, avoids flooding, and keeps sediment from shifting because of floods. Stormwater, when not controlled, can cause the runoff of soil nutrients, and organic matter is displaced. Bacteria, oil and grease, toxins, and heavy metals are sent into the environment, which is not equipped to deal with these things.
Stormwater Best Management Practices
What options do we have to deal with the issues caused by stormwater? With stormwater best management practices, or BMP’s, we can get a handle on stormwater management.
With non-structural BMP’s there is a focus on the best use of the land through planning and design. This method seeks to reduce and prevent stormwater. NexGen can protect the sensitive areas by finding and mapping out the wetlands, floodplains, and vernal pools. Areas of development need to be recognized, as well as sensitive areas. There is natural drainage already in place in these areas. We can use those natural drainage systems to keep these areas from being disturbed.
There are also structural BMP’s. These are projects that are constructed as part of a developed project. Due to their nature, they have to be engineered and designed to work properly. NexGen uses methods that successfully use the contours of the site, the types of soils, vegetation that might be present, and existing geology that might help with sustainability goals.
There are three methods of structural BMP’s:
How Does Infiltration Work?
The stormwater BMP of infiltration uses surfaces that can allow water to permeate down into the ground. Through an innovative approach to engineering, there are different porous surfaces that can be used such as asphalt or concrete that has a coarse aggregate, such as stone, underneath it. Another infiltration possibility is the detention pond, which holds large amounts of stormwater. The ponds have layers of aggregate that filter the stormwater beneath them, and allow runoff to percolate back into the groundwater below the pond. NexGen uses same basic principle in beds and trenches as well. They use underground piping. This pipe is perforated with small holes that allow water to seep through into the ground as it moves along the length of the pipe. Around the pipe is aggregate, such as gravel, surrounded by geotextile fabric that encapsulates the pipe. Using this form of water treatment allows the water to be recycled.
What Is Restoration?
Restoration as a BMP is quite effective and visually appealing. This is restoring the land and natural areas, especially around rivers, streams, and lakeshores.
When a construction project is going on, development can stretch right up to the edges of these bodies of water. NexGen knows simply by planting a natural buffer around these areas can serve as a barrier that protects these lakes and streams from harmful pollutants such as toxins, heavy metals, and oil and grease. Restoration doesn’t just need to be practiced near bodies of water, either. Any natural area that is worn away can be restored to withstand the dangerous pollution that stormwater brings.
What Are Some Examples of Control?
Control is the stormwater BMP that focuses on not allowing stormwater to become dangerous runoff in the first place. It’s about optimizing water resources through water recycling. One form of this is taking rain barrels and placing them under a drain spout. Later, after it rains, there are many options for the water.
It can be used for watering plants, washing cars, washing windows, watering a garden, watering the lawn, and other outside applications. When talking about control as a BMP, an option NexGen can use is a planted roof. In a situation like this, a waterproof membrane is spread across a roof. Soil is then placed on top of the membrane and seeded. These planted roofs can become quite complex. They can have their own stormwater management in case there is a large rain event. But they are beautiful and serve a great purpose: to use the water that would normally become runoff.
California Stormwater Management is important to every development. Unchecked, stormwater damages the environment around us. Through stormwater best management practices, NexGen will work to make your development safer and cleaner.