May 22, 2017

DrainageExtreme weather is nothing new to the residents of Ann Arbor, MI. Along with severe storms comes the excess water that needs a way to drain off so it does not result in flooding or standing water.

Water concentration occurs wherever there is an impediment to drainage. Between the overgrowth or erosion of landscaping, the threat of flooding, and environmental concerns, the need for an effective stormwater management program is paramount in Ann Arbor. It is also paramount in other territories where extreme weather threatens both urban and non-urban areas.

Rain Falls on Everything

During rainstorms, a percentage of precipitation is retained by plants and the earth which also helps replenish groundwater levels. Urban areas have less open ground spaces, where water is normally absorbed. In both urban and non-urban areas, impervious surfaces such as rooftops, parking lots, streets, and sidewalks, prevent absorption and encourage the water to flow to watersheds. Channels or pathways that drain runoff to streams, lakes, rivers or eventually the ocean, are watersheds. Storm drains are also watersheds.

Most people assume the job of managing storm runoff is handled by local governmental agencies or developers. While it is true that these interests are responsible for planning and implementing effective programs, the role of residents in the community cannot be underestimated. The actions of one individual affect the community just as the actions of a community affect downstream neighbors. As excess water from severe storms flows along, it picks up potential pollutants such as:

  • Machine oils and gasoline from leaking engines
  • Pesticides and fertilizers used in lawn and garden maintenance
  • Bacteria from both human and animal waste
  • Metals
  • Chlorinated pool water

The Importance of Storm Water Management Systems

Modern urbanization has covered much of our open, rural landscapes with concrete and asphalt. Water collection systems are engineered in the planning of communities to help channel and capture runoff. Where the remaining landscape has shifted or clogs have developed, the existing systems cannot perform at peak level. It is of the highest importance that whole neighborhoods with their streets, lawns and common areas, share in being prepared for extreme weather. Homeowners should make the effort to learn about their local watersheds, the upstream impact, and how they impact downstream neighbors. Contaminated runoff is everyone’s problem as it impacts the water supply. Water consumption for both humans and the local wildlife is at risk from pollution due to runoff. If the excess water from severe storms has no place to go or if the systems in place are not up to the challenge, then the system is effectively useless.

More communities these days are working to incorporate drainage systems that are more natural. In addition, runoff is reduced when water infiltration is increased on site. This is also the best method for improving the quality of the water retained, and it all starts with the individual homeowner.

Landscape maintenance contracts provide residents and businesses with knowledgeable people who have the experience and resources to establish, construct, and maintain the ideal stormwater management systems needed to prevent flooding and other perils related to water concentration. It is less costly to manage prevention than it is to pay for the cleanup.