The purpose of this page is to provide information about how storm water is handled within Redwood Falls, to provide links to other websites with a water quality theme, and, hopefully, to provide some helpful tips for you to contribute to improving water quality here in town.
Everyone, everywhere, lives in a watershed. So we thought it might be a good idea to start out by clearing up just what are “watersheds” and what can we do to protect them.
- WHAT IS A WATERSHED?
A watershed is the surrounding land area that drains into a lake, stream, or river. It includes natural and artificial drainage systems, such as ditches and storm sewers. Even if your home is not next to a lake, stream, or river, you still live in a watershed. Every water body has a watershed that surrounds it. Each of us lives in a watershed and shares its water quality.
- HOW DO WATERSHEDS AFFECT WATER QUALITY?
If we pollute the watersheds surrounding a lake, stream, or river, we are directly affecting the water quality in that lake, stream, or river. Everything we do in a watershed, from caring for our lawns and gardens to picking up our leaves, affects the local water body. Caring for your watershed is caring for your local lake or stream.
- HOW IS MY WATERSHED AFFECTING WATER QUALITY?
Many events that occur in a watershed affect water quality, including the following:
- STORM WATER RUNOFF
In a natural watershed, rain falls on grassy or vegetated areas. Grass allows the soil to soak up most of the rain that falls. In an urban watershed, rain falls on hard surfaces such as streets, driveways, and rooftops. The rainwater runs quickly over these hard surfaces and is not soaked up. This moving water is called storm water runoff. Storm water runoff is a result of rainfall and melting snow. As this water flows to storm sewers, it picks up pollutants. Pollutants in storm water runoff include oil and antifreeze from streets and driveways, leaves and grass clippings from gutters and streets, animal wastes from lawns and gutters, and fertilizers and pesticides from lawns and gardens. The loss of vegetated areas due to urbanization and development dramatically increases the volume of storm water runoff. Urbanization also increases the amount of pollutants available to be picked up by storm water.
- STORM SEWERS
Storm water runoff is carried directly to lakes and streams through storm sewers. Storm sewers are designed to prevent flooding, but also provide direct routes for pollutants to lakes and streams. By controlling the pollutants in storm water runoff, we can control the amount of pollution entering our lakes and streams.
- LAWN CARE
Phosphorus is one of the most troublesome pollutants in storm water runoff. Phosphorus comes from many sources, and it is the primary cause of water quality problems in our lakes and streams. Everything that is or was living contains phosphorus. It is in leaves. It is in lawn clippings. It is in animal wastes. It is an ingredient in most lawn fertilizers. It is even attached to soil. When leaves, lawn clippings, animal wastes, fertilizers, and soil are picked up by storm water runoff and are carried directly to our local lakes and streams, they provide the lakes with excess phosphorus. This excess phosphorus causes increased algae growth. Algae are small green plants that live in lakes and streams. Increased algae growth is observed as green algae blooms or scums on lakes. Too much algae is harmful to a lake system. It blocks sunlight and prevents other plants from growing. When it dies and decays, it also takes much needed oxygen away from fish. Limiting phosphorus reduces algae blooms.
- YOU CAN REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF PHOSPHORUS ENTERING A LAKE OR STREAM BY:
Keeping your leaves and lawn clippings out of the streets and gutters. Leaves and lawn clippings are a major source of phosphorus. When they are swept or washed into the nearest street or storm sewer, they end up in your local lake or stream. Keeping your leaves and lawn clippings out of the streets and gutters will have significant benefits for your local lake or stream. Applying only the amount of fertilizer your lawn needs. A soil test will tell you how much-if any-fertilizer your lawn needs. Excess fertilizer may harm your lawn or pollute surface water. Fertilizer applied to your streets or sidewalks will get into the nearest lake or stream. Phosphorus from fertilizers can cause algae blooms. Use only low-phosphorus or phosphorus-free fertilizers. Controlling soil erosion around your house. When soil is left bare, rainwater will run quickly over it. The moving water picks up soil particles. These soil particles have phosphorus attached to them. Some soils are high in phosphorus and are another source of phosphorus in storm water runoff. The soil in storm water runoff will end up in your local lake or stream and contribute to algae growth.
- STORM WATER RUNOFF
- WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY WATERSHED?
You can help your watershed by understanding that you are part of the solution to water quality problems. Your actions affect the water and environment around us. Keeping your lawn healthy is beneficial to water quality. Plant and maintain grass and natural vegetation to help water quality by soaking up rainfall, reducing runoff, and retaining sediment. Use phosphorus-free fertilizers. Keep your leaves and lawn clippings out of the streets and gutters. Pick up your pet’s wastes. It all adds up to better water quality. And that means water that is fun and safe to swim in, live by, and enjoy.
In March of 2003, Redwood Falls created its Storm Water Utility in order to fund the ongoing maintenance and reconstruction of the City’s Storm Drainage System. Follow the links below to view a brochure that answers some basic questions about the Utility along with the Utility Rates:
Storm Water Management – Low Impact Development
This website is designed to provide information on “Low Impact Development” (LID) alternatives for lot owners, businesses, and developers. Find out new ways to reduce the impact of runoff from your home or business and incorporate LID practices in your landscaping, remodeling, and development designs.
Redwood Soil & Water Conservation District
This website is for your local Redwood County Soil and Water Conservation District. It provides contact information and cost share programs for the installation of rain gardens around your home to manage the runoff from your home and they are a good source for attractive rain barrels for reusing rain water for your gardening needs.
Redwood County Environmental Office
This website is for your local Redwood County Environmental Office. It provides contact information for all of your recycling questions and you can purchase attractive rain barrels for reusing rain water for your gardening needs and compost bins for recycling your grass, leaves, and garden waste.
DNR – Shoreland Management
This page is part of the DNR’s very extensive website. It contains some very good definitions as well as suggestions for helping to maintain and improve quality shoreland environments.
U of M Extension – Storm Water
This page brings the issues of storm water quality “home”. It contains a number of things that homeowners can easily incorporate into their residence’s landscape scheme to enhance their community’s water quality.
Credits: Thanks to the linked local and State agencies for providing comprehensive and extensive sources of information on stormwater management!
Please contact James Doering, Public Works Project Coordinator, for any questions, comments, or concerns you may have pertaining to the City of Redwood Falls SWPPP/MS4 Program:
PW Project Coordinator
City of Redwood Falls