Urban development has a huge impact on watersheds by increasing peak discharge, volume, and flooding frequency. In natural, undeveloped areas, rainwater and snowmelt is able to infiltrate the soil and run through subsurface drainage networks. Development paves over the soil with cement, cutting water off from this normal drainage network and forcing it to run off over the landscape. As runoff travels, it picks up pollutants and carries them into our streams and other water bodies. These pollutants pose a threat to aquatic life and water quality. During construction of roads, parking lots, and buildings, vegetation is removed and soil is removed to flatten the landscape. Not only do these surfaces increase runoff, but they increase erosion as well.
These patterns of disruption increase the flashiness of natural streams. Flashy streams have high flow and increase peak discharge. This leads to urban flooding, as you may have seen on State Route 303 in Streetsboro. Floods carry sediment that is then deposited into stream beds. Sediment deposition further restricts stream flow, putting streams and creeks in Streetsboro at even more risk! How can you help combat this flooding?
You can use different materials in development that are still firm while allowing water to percolate through the surface into the groundwater table. Plastic grid systems, block pavers, and porous asphalt or concrete are just a few examples. With proper installation and maintenance, these alternative materials can help reduce urban flooding! Additionally, preserving more natural greenspace on your property can also promote drainage, especially if planted with native plant species.
Green infrastructure has been shown to be an effective way of reducing runoff and improving water quality. Examples of green infrastructure practices include rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable pavements. These practices absorb and treat runoff, reducing the burden on traditional gray stormwater infrastructure. To learn more about green infrastructure practices, view Maintaining Stormwater Control Measures Guidance for Private Owners and Operators.