STORM WATER MANAGEMENT

HELP LAKE ERIE – OUR SOURCE OF DRINKING WATER!

What you can do at home to make a difference:

  1. Practicing household healthy habits can improve the quality of our streams, rivers, creeks and lakes.
  2. When you wash your car in the driveway, the soapy water goes into the storm drain and out to our waterways untreated. Consider washing your car on the lawn or taking it to a commercial car wash where the soapy water is treated.
  3. Leaving dog waste on the lawn is not only gross, but it is a hazard to our waterways. Pet waste has bacteria in it that can make its way into our creeks, streams and eventually to Lake Erie. Pick up after your pet and throw it in the garbage!
  4. Improperly fertilizing your lawn can cause runoff of phosphorous to our waterways. Get your soil tested first to see what your lawn needs. If you choose to fertilize, do so sparingly and caringly.

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To find out more about how your city is combating storm water pollution, contact the City of Middleburg Heights Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program at (440) 234-2216 or the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District at (216) 524-6580 (www.cuyahogaswcd.org).

Soil Testing in Cuyahoga County

The city is working with our federal and state Environmental Protection Agencies and with the Cuyahoga County Soil & Water Conservation District, to help reduce water pollution caused by runoff from rainstorms, commonly known as storm water pollution.

Soil Testing:

  • Saves money! Choose specific amounts of fertilizers without wasting fertilizer money.
  • Diagnoses whether there is too little or too much of an analyzed nutrient.
  • Encourages proper plant nutrition by providing the appropriate lime and fertilizer recommendations.
  • Promotes environmental stewardship. When applying only as much fertilizer as is necessary, nutrient loading into surface and ground water is minimized and natural resources are conserved.

How do you soil test?

Getting a good representative sample is very important for obtaining a meaningful soil test report. Only 2 cups of soil are needed. Collect soil anywhere from 0-6" deep from different sections of the area (lawn or garden) you want tested. Label all plastic bags with the area you collected from and drop off the sample with your name, address, phone number and payment to:

Cuyahoga County Water Quality Lab

6100 West Canal Road Valley View, OH 44125 (north door)

Make checks payable to Cuyahoga County Treasurer

c/o Sanitary Engineering Division

For more information, contact Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District at (216) 524.6580 x 17  

Now Sprouting Everywhere

Rain Gardens

A Great Looking Landscape Feature that Raises Watershed Awareness!

A rain garden is an attractive, landscaped area planted with perennial native plants that don't mind getting "wet feet." Rain gardens enhance the beauty of individual yards and communities and provide habitat and food for wildlife.

Homeowners wishing to take action in their own backyards can help relieve some of the issues related to rain water by installing a rain garden. Rain gardens are easy to build in just a few hours and they are easy to maintain. A good spot in your yard is a must and, in addition to the plants, you probably need to purchase or mix your own amended soil to allow the rain garden to function properly.

Native perennial plants, either grasses or flowering plants, can be used and your garden can be designed to reflect your personal landscaping tastes.

Sidewalks, roads, rooftops and lawns do not allow the rainwater to soak into the ground, which could help to reduce some of the impact. Rain gardens restore the land's ability to soak up some of the storm water — one garden at a time.

Rain gardens are now being designed and built around the nation and in your own backyard. Here in Cuyahoga County, local garden clubs, environmental clubs, volunteers and homeowners have already installed rain gardens in Berea, Euclid, Independence, Lyndhurst, Richmond Heights, South Euclid and Walton Hills.

Easy-to follow instructions, including a list of native plant species and the supplies needed for building your rain garden, can be found on the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation's website at www.cuyahogaswcd.org. Basic supplies and equipment include shovels, rakes, wheel barrow, soil mix, mulch, weed barrier, native plants and good friends to help out.  

What is Storm Water Pollution?

Unlike pollution from sewage treatment plants, storm water pollution comes from many different sources on the land. Storm water runoff from rain can dissolve, pick up and transport many types of common household and yard chemicals and other materials that cause pollution.

Automotive waste, lawn waste and chemicals, pet waste, paints and eroded soil are all pollutants found in our local streams, rivers and Lake Erie.

Polluted storm water threatens public health by contaminating drinking water supplies and recreational areas. It also damages or destroys fish, wildlife and aquatic life habitats and decreases the aesthetic and economic value of these resources.

What is the problem with storm water runoff?

In open fields, forests and wetlands, rain is absorbed by the soil or taken up by plants and trees.

In developed areas, however, rain or snow that falls on roofs, parking lots, streets and lawns is not absorbed. Instead, it rapidly runs off the land, scouring streams, or carrying pollutants through the storm sewers, directly to local streams and into Lake Erie.

How can we improve our water resources?

Protect your storm drains. Never allow any chemicals, paint, yard waste, pet waste, or litter to be washed down or put into storm drains; these drains flow directly to our local creeks and rivers.

Recycle used motor oil and antifreeze. One quart of oil can contaminate up to two million gallons of drinking water! Call 1-800-CLEANUP for the nearest collection center, or contact the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District at (216) 443-3749 or www.cuyahogaswd.org.

Reduce or eliminate fertilizers for your lawn. When using fertilizers, be sure to sweep excess fertilizer from driveways, sidewalks and streets. Have your soil tested to determine exactly what nutrients are needed. Contact Ohio State University (OSU) Extension at (216) 397-6000 for information.

Grass clippings, leaves and yard debris are organic, but they definitely should not be dumped near or into a stream. Make use of your yard waste by composting it into a rich organic matter. Composting protects the environment and saves you money.

Woody Vegetation Landscape Beauty Function

What role does woody vegetative cover, in contrast with other types of land cover, play in the cycle of flooding, erosion and sedimentation? This question has long been pondered by soil conservationists, foresters and meteorologists, as well as civil engineers. While a complete and satisfying answer to this question cannot yet be made, some facts are clear. Among them is the fact that woody vegetative cover promotes water quality by holding soil in place, providing additional soil water storage potential and maintaining soil infiltration capacity.

The benefits of woody vegetative cover on soil function and soil erosion are increasingly recognized in urban areas from coast to coast. For example, in 2001, the city of Salem, Oregon, completed an "Urban Ecosytem Analysis" which included a green data layer of classified land cover to determine the relative health of watersheds and repairing corridors. This is because impervious surface and woody-vegetative cover are directly related to watershed function and water quality — part of the city's responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. In Northeast Ohio, communities are increasingly turning to the use of setbacks (naturally vegetated land along streams, rivers or wetlands) in order to maintain riparian and wetland function, address water quality concerns and minimize stream bank erosion and flood damage that are directly affected by land use of the flood plains and by structural and cultural practices that are improperly designed or located.

Woody vegetative cover does not only serve as a function of stormwater management, it creates a beautiful, aesthetic element to your landscape. It has been reported that over 250 bird species have been sighted within Cuyahoga County and planting woody vegetation could potentially attract these species to your own backyard! Planting woody vegetation can reduce stormwater runoff and aid with water quality.

Clean water starts with you!

Remember

Nothing But Rain Down the Storm Drains!

Learn more at these websites:

US EPA Storm Water www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater

US EPA Nonpoint Source Pollution www.water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/whatis.cfm

US Geological Survey Learning Web, Search "Water" and "Rainfall Runoff" www.usgs.gov/education

Storm Water and Your Community Fact Sheet From Ohio State University Extension http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0442.html