The Lake Champlain Basin typically receives 35 inches of rain annually but we rarely think about where the rain goes and its impact on our environment. When rain falls on a field or forested landscape, it soaks into the ground naturally but when it falls on an urban landscape, it runs off hard or “impervious” surfaces like roofs, driveways, and sidewalks, and flows into the storm sewer system and is known as “stormwater runoff”. As stormwater runoff moves across the urban landscape it picks up debris, chemicals, oil and other pollutants before entering the storm sewer system. Anything that enters the storm sewer system including the stormwater runoff is discharged untreated to water bodies we use for swimming, fishing and drinking water. Stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people. An increased volume of stormwater runoff can cause stream bank erosion and water pollution. Sediment can cloud the water, making it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow, which can degrade aquatic habitats. Stormwater often affects drinking water sources which can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
For more information about reducing and preventing excess stormwater runoff, check out our residential low-impact development page.