Greetings everyone and thanks again for your continued following and support of local journalism. I am a far cry from being a journalist but in this past year I have learned so much from those who are. This week I will cover a topic that is often the most overlooked subject in landscaping, but is such an important issue, now than ever before- storm water management.
Good management of storm water is vital for gardens as well as your home and local, regional and broader water supply that we all rely on.
As of this week, the National Weather Service, NOAA.gov, issued statements indicating that we have returned to early signs of drought in West River from the Missouri River to areas near the Black Hills. Locally there are things each of us can do to help preserve our most valuable resource and as I have been taught- our first medicine.
Storm Water and Surface Management
Storm water and surface ater management is a collection of good stewardship practices as well as home and garden preventive measures and maintenance.
Here in South Dakota there are many protections for ground water and large surface water areas but little has been mandated on private lots, which is not uncommon compared to other areas in the nation. In places like Seattle and Portland not only is a detailed plan required, but you must get permits and inspections done from start to finish.
Here are some reasons why good stewardship practices matter:
• Major and minor practices protect our resource and our property investments including homes, barns, row crops and grazing lands.
• Recognize existing storm water systems help prevent contamination from entering such as oils, trash and silt.
• Prevents standing water from becoming a health and safety issue.
• Work with natural water sources such as streams, rivers and springs.
• Moving storm water away from structures and other land areas in use by homeowners, farmers, ranchers and municipal protect structural and agricultural investment.
What can you do to help do your part and protect your home and land: When you build new construction or remodel, make storm water management a priority in your building list and budget in your landscape. After you have built or installed a structure, the first phase of landscaping should be your storm water plan and how you will keep your crawlspace or basement dry, as well as keeping your yard and or parking areas free of undesired water.
How this is done and calculated: First, figure out the total square footage of your roof area for each structure on your property. Add up all your square footage of hardscape, which is any area of ground covered by semi-porous materials such as 5/8 gravel with minus, crushed concrete, concrete or asphalt.
Secondly, get an average monthly rainfall calculation. Do this by going online to usgs.gov to find the storm water calculator. This tool will give you water projections for just your property.
Types of roof drain systems:
No-gutter weeping systems: This is where you have no gutters for collecting and moving storm water from your roof but the water falls to the ground into a gravel-filled ditch with a corrugated pipe placed between two layers of gravel drain the rock. These systems tend to be troublesome and water either backs up into the home’s crawlspace or basement after heavy downpours.
Gutter systems with downspouts and drain field and or collection tank: This system collects the water from your roof into gutters. The gutters are connected to pipes that carry the water away from your home, preventing water from pooling around or under your home. The water is disbursed into the ground through series of French drains and/or a collection tank in the ground. Once the tank is full, the remaining water goes into a French drain where it works into the ground returning to the natural cycle of going into the aquifer or moving underground to a stream. The water in the tank can now be used for irrigation of your landscape or farm.
Storm water systems for landscapes and parking lots: These systems work much the same way as a roof system but since contaminants can be in this water, no tanks are used. Instead a large semi-shallow ditch is made and planted with grass. This is called a grass filter. The root system binds the contaminants and breaks them down over time to limit pollution. The contaminants get bound into the grass and is broken down into bound elements.
All this may sound unfamiliar but farmers and ranchers have been using these methods for a long time. They have been channeling water from high ground to low ground to provide pools for cattle and other livestock for years. There is a lot more science involved in farming and ranching today than ever before. Today’s farmer and rancher must be accountants, climatologist, weather forecasters, soil and plant biologist and agronomist to name a short list of hats worn.
The most basic system can be done at a reasonable price, while complex systems should be done by a licensed contractor. Systems can even incorporate fish ponds and other water features without tapping into a town’s metered water system.
Recommended contractors for large systems: Earth Enterprises, a nationwide landscape contractor; Pipe Inc,., Midwest Construction.
These systems can be installed by a homeowner all at once or in sections as budgets allow. These systems should be part of any commercial development as our water becomes more scarce. These types of systems will not be much change for us but they will help ensure clean adequate water supplies for generations to come.