Understanding Storm Water

How to Manage Storm Water 

(Reference: Home.A.Syst Environmental Risk Assessment Guide, muextension.missouri.edu/explore) 


Keep harmful chemicals and materials out of runoff!  

• Silt, sand, and clay particles and other debris: bare spots in lawns & gardens, wastewater from washing cars and trucks on driveways or parking lots, unprotected stream banks.

• Nutrients: over-used or spilled fertilizers, pet manure, grass clippings and leaves left on streets and sidewalks, leaves burned in ditches.

• Disease organisms: Pet manure and garbage.

• Hydrocarbons: Car & truck exhaust; leaks & spills of oil & gas, burning leaves & garbage.

• Pesticides: Pesticides over-applied or applied before a rainstorm, spills & leaks.

• Metals: Cars & trucks (brakes & tire wear, exhaust), galvanized metal gutters & downspouts.


Questions to ask yourself? 

Where does the storm water go on my property

Next time you are home during a rain shower, head out-doors with your boots and umbrella -- watch where does the rainwater goes. Make a simple sketch of your property and note the direction the water flows off driveways, rooftops, sidewalks, etc.

What is my soil type? 

Soil type can affect water infiltration. Sandy soil = filtration quickly, clay or fine-grained silt = longer and harder to seep in to the ground.

How far it is to the nearest storm sewer, ditch, wetland, stream or body of open water? 

Distance that runoff travels affects infiltration.

Are any car or truck wastes being carried away by my storm water? 

Try washing your car on the lawn or take it to a commercial car wash.

Are household products stored outside the reach of storm water? 

Keep such chemicals in waterproof containers and store up high –o out of the potential path of runoff or floods. Prevent them from freezing – they may burst rendering the product unusable and/or a potential pollutant.

Do you use and handle chemicals safely? 

Mix chemicals within a washtub so spills are contained. If spilling occurs, act quickly to contain & clean up the spill. Use only the amount you need (pesticides or fertilizers) and time applications well before it rains (24-48 hours). Read all labels carefully for application instructions and restrictions.

Do you use road salt or other de-icing products? 

Consider sand or regular kitty litter as a less toxic alternative and chipping ice off pavements is a good choice.

How is animal manure kept from becoming a pollution problem? 

Droppings that are not mixed with litter or other materials should be flushed down the toilet or if local ordinances allow, droppings may either be buried or wrapped and put in the garbage for disposal.

Are yard & garden wastes kept out of storm water? 

Keep grass clippings and other yard wastes off sidewalks, driveways or roads -- which can wash away during the next storm. Compost excess amounts of plant matter. Avoid burning yard waste. Rain washes smoke particles out of the air and runoff picks up dust and ashes left on pavement or in ditches.

Plan landscaping and site management to control storm water runoff. 

Minimize bare soil in gardens, newly seeded lawns, and around construction projects. Water from rain and snow can remove large amounts of soil and carry it into wetlands, rivers, and lakes.

Control runoff and erosion during construction. Eliminate paved surfaces or install alternatives. When you have a choice, consider alternative materials such as gravel or wood chips for walkways.

Is your basement protected from storm water seepage or flooding? 

Storm water in your basement can be a hazard – (1) water carries contaminants or disease organisms into your home, (2) it also picks up chemicals stored in your basement and carries them into the sewer or ground. Seal windows or doors in basements to avoid water entry points.