Storm water management is a big challenge in urban environments since most of the original soil in these areas is covered by surfaces such as concrete. Because of this, the soil in urban areas cannot do its job of storing, capturing, and cleaning the rainwater that fall. This leaves the water nowhere to go other than into the streets and through the storm drains.
My simply managing the soil in your own yard, you can make a huge difference in the amount of water that goes into the storm drains. The biggest way to help is through reducing, or preventing, the compaction of soil. You see, soil contains many pores like a sponge. When you compact the soil, their size is reduced. Compacted soil is unable to hold as much water as soil that is healthy can. Since compacted soil has less channels for the water to flow into it, it is difficult for the water to penetrate the soil. There are some simple things you can do to help reduce the compaction of the soil in your yard.
First, limit how much you walk around your yard. This definitely needs to be the case after it rains since the soil is more likely to compact when it is wet. Instead, make designated paths and walk on those. You can also add some mulch to the areas to further protect the soil. Never drive or park large objects in your yard either.
Second, add a lot of organic matter to your soil. The easiest way to accomplish this is to leave organics on your yard, such as leaves and grass clippings. These items will incorporate into the soil as they decompose. You will increase the holding capacity of your soil by using organic matter. The holding capacity refers to how much water that can be held by your soil.
Keep your soil covered at all times, You can do this with mulch or with plants that have deep roots. The roots on the plants aggregate the soil. This loosens it up and allows water to flow down into the soil rather than over the surface. If plants can’t grow easily in an area, use mulch to help hold the moisture in.
Taking these steps may be simple and seem irrelevant, but if we all do these things in our yards, the impact could be overwhelming not only for your yard, but for the community that depends on the storm drains. In this way, you also help your community to have cleaner water and healthier soil.