Homeowner/General Public

Image showing house with raingarden
Raingardens are just one way to manage stormwater around the home.
Federal, state and local government can only do so much to maintain the quality of stormwater in your area. As a concerned citizen, you can play a vital role in managing stormwater and encouraging the use of sustainable practices at home and within the community.

What can you do to encourage the use of best management practices?

If you own a home, you can take steps to improve both the quantity and quality of stormwater that leaves your property.

Rainfall, snow melt, water from a hose or sprinkler - these all contribute to the amount of water that may leave your property as runoff. To reduce the burden on stormwater conveyances such as storm drains and sewers, look for ways to retain or infiltrate water on site, or reduce the amount of water used for household tasks.

Water quality is affected by the materials on or around your property. Pet waste, exposed soil, improperly maintained septic systems, substances associated with vehicle washing, maintenance and repair, chemical fertilizers, trash and other disposable material, and yard waste are all potential sources of pollution. To protect water quality, take steps to minimize the amount of pollutants that enter the stormwater system from your property.

Take action around the house:

  • Evaluate your property and current practices. What can you do to improve surface drainage and stormwater quality at home?
  • Use your best judgment when working around the home. If you are not sure whether an activity will cause harm, be sure to get help from a knowledgeable source before proceeding.
  • Be aware of how water travels through and around your property and the surrounding area. Use that knowledge to help you decide which BMPs might be most appropriate for your situation.
  • Implement BMPs in your own yard. You can reduce stormwater quantity and improve quality using simple landscaping and grading techniques and directing runoff to pervious areas. When people ask, tell them what you are doing (or not doing) to improve stormwater management.
  • If you are improving your home, choose contractors that implement best practices for the use and disposal of materials and chemicals that could enter stormwater. If you are doing the work yourself, do your homework and find out how to reduce the risk of contamination of stormwater, such as storing materials indoors or under cover and using prescribed amounts of chemicals and other potential contaminants.
  • Keep your property free of chemicals, trash, pet waste, and other materials that may negatively impact runoff quality.

You can participate in sustainable stormwater management even if you do not own land.

Things anyone can do:

  • Be aware of how water moves in your environment and look for ways to reduce the amount of pollutants that enter the stormwater drains or ways to reduce the amount of water that enters the system in the first place.
  • Let your homeowners association or town planning board know that you are interested in sustainable stormwater management. Direct them to this site for more information and to give them ideas for how to proceed.
  • Use your vote to support elected officials that promote the use of stormwater best management practices or who are open to changing the existing regulatory framework to allow for the use of alternative stormwater management options.
  • Participate in open space planning committees to support sustainable stormwater management in parks and public right-of-ways.
  • Petition for or support fundraising for stormwater features as demonstrations at schools and other public facilities.
  • Organize events to pick up trash near local waterways.

Next Steps

Take a look at some of the case studies to see how different groups interacted to implement projects in other areas. Think about how you might be able to bring such changes to your own projects. The toolbox page provides links to many resources to help you encourage the use of sustainable stormwater practices. Additional information can be found in the resource links section.

The following resources may be of particular interest:

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