ENVIRONMENT RRWA Environmental: Rainwater runoff

As winter rains continue to fall and hopefully bring relief to our historic drought-catching communities, rainwater will begin to seep into our gardens and fields and flow down the streets into stormwater drains that are not connected to the canal. . Precipitation drains are specifically designed to absorb excess rainwater from the streets and flow through culverts and drainage channels into streams, rivers and ultimately Pacific ocean. Rainwater drainage systems are not limited to the canals of our streets; They may also include designed systems to help reduce flooding, increase groundwater recharge, and improve the overall resilience of the ecosystem. These planned systems are called Low impact development (LID).

You may have seen examples of LIDs in your area. They are often designed to be delicate and look ordinary, but they play an important role in protecting our water resources. LID projects include wooden boxes, permeable sidewalks, sidewalk extensions, organic conservation areas and rainforests. Each works on a similar principle: slowing down run-off from impermeable surfaces such as roads, sidewalks, roofs and driveways by directing runoff to LIDs that provide catchment areas for water, allowing filtration through vegetation, soil, on sand and gravel to slow down. it drains, reduces floods, and traps rainwater in reservoirs, creating natural green spaces. These restraining areas can take the form of rain gardens that catch excess runoff from the roof, or from tree-lined wells at the bottom of the garden that increase infiltration. Unfortunately, rainwater contains a lot of pollutants, but there are steps you can take to protect these restraining lakes from working in the years to come. Many of these projects are easy to implement in your own home, and a Russian River Basin Association you can find fantastic resources here (www.rrwatershed.org/resource-library).

Rainwater systems were originally designed to drain rainwater quickly through the streets during severe storms. Unfortunately, these systems can transport pollutants such as pesticides, harmful bacteria and chemicals straight from the city streets to streams – of particular concern are used motor oils, pet waste and sharp objects.

Used oil from a single oil change can contaminate up to a million gallons of fresh water. Improper disposal of used oil, including oil leaks from cars, contributes significantly to rainwater pollution. THE EPA it is estimated that U.S. households dispose of approximately 193 million gallons of used oil annually, which is roughly equivalent to 17 industrial oil spills. Proper recycling of used engine oil reduces this risk of contamination. Taking your used oil to a qualified recycling center will help protect the environment, save you valuable resources and get money for it! If you have a tank containing used oil, you can take it to a certified collection center (CCC). In addition, many communities have sidewalk recycling programs that allow oil to be left on the curb (if properly packaged). Or you can have the oil replaced at a service center that recycles the oil. Visit the CalRecycle page for more information.

Like used oil, pet waste is one of the many sources of rainwater pollution that can degrade water quality. During rains, pet waste left on lawns, beaches, paths and sidewalks ends up in rainwater drains, where the waste and the pathogens it contains end up in streams where it can harm human health and the environment. It is estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria known to cause seizures, diarrhea, intestinal diseases and severe kidney disease in humans. So picking up after your pet is an easy thing to do to help avoid harmful bacteria on your local waterways!

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Another particular concern is the needles and other sharp objects left near waterways, in gutters or on the streets. Prescription drugs available in our storm drains can have a serious impact on wildlife Russian river, such as disruption of natural reproductive patterns. Sharp objects left on the street can endanger drain cleaners. Any person accidentally stuck or cut should be subjected to a medical examination for exposure to harmful or fatal diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. By disposing of sharp tools properly, you, your family, your community, and your environment can be safe. You can obtain sharp containers from your doctor, hospital, health insurance provider, health care provider, pharmacist, or online. They are available free of charge in some cases. If you are unable to obtain an approved sharps container, follow these steps to prepare yourself: place the sharps in an empty hard plastic detergent or bleach bottle, unscrew the lid and secure with strong adhesive tape, and clearly label the bottle with a “SHARPS” permanent marker. Once you have collected your sharps in the container, you can drop them off at designated collection points as they will never end up in the normal rubbish.More information here and here about the proper disposal of sharps in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

Storm drains and other LID features are valuable design features that return rainwater from impermeable surfaces to the soil and waterways. However, these systems are prone to pollution, so they need to be protected and everyone is doing their part to reduce their impact.

Author of the article Michael Harrigan, environmental compliance expert, Mendocino County Water Agency, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA (www.rrwarshed.org) is an association of local government agencies operating in the Russian River Basin that has teamed up to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and river basin improvement.

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