• When rain is not absorbed into the ground, it becomes stormwater runoff (Photo - renourishment.org).

      When rain is not absorbed into the ground, it becomes stormwater runoff (Photo – renourishment.org).

      As urban areas have grown, we have altered nature, replacing it with sidewalks, parking lots, roads, and other man-made structures.

      By Kara Reeve

      Our development patterns have not only led to harmful levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, causing the climate to change, but they have also made our neighborhoods more vulnerable to flooding from stormwater.  In the coming years, we can expect flooding events to intensify in frequency and severity in most regions of the U.S., including areas where average annual rain or snow is expected to decline, but especially in areas that are expected to become wetter, such as the Midwest and the Northeast. Intense rainstorms can trigger sewer overflows that pose a hazard to public health and aquatic ecosystems, as Superstorm Sandy demonstrated in 2012.

      The next time it starts raining, watch the way the water quickly runs off sidewalks and streets into the storm sewer, and you’ll understand why it’s important that we work with, and not against, nature to be prepared for extreme weather.

      The stormwater and sewage infrastructure of many communities can’t meet the demand.  When rain or snow is not absorbed into the ground, the water that remains becomes stormwater runoff.  When it rains, this runoff travels over impervious surfaces, like sidewalks, streets, and even lawns, and travels towards water bodies. This stormwater carries pollutants, like motor oil, fertilizers, and pesticides, as well as trash, which all make their way into our streams and harbors. Intense rain storms, which are becoming more frequent, can trigger combined sewer overflows, which occur when stormwater mixes with wastewater and floods basements, city streets, and is even discharged into our streams, rivers, and lakes.

      Make Your Yard A Wildlife-Friendly Stormwater Sponge

      Installing a raingarden in L.A. (Photo - renourishment.org).

      Installing a raingarden in L.A. (Photo – renourishment.org).

      The way we design and manage our yards can actually help us be part of the solution, and not the problem.  You have the tools to re-imagine your yard to include plants more suited for a changing climate, such as native species that are more drought-tolerant, while also creating suitable habitats for wildlife.  For example, National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat ® program for backyards, schoolyards, businesses and public spaces is based on the four essential needs of wildlife: food; water sources; cover; and places to raise young. While the basic requirements are not stringent, many institutions go beyond the minimum standards.  Landowners can design a Certified Wildlife Habitat® in a way that not only provides habitat for wildlife, but also helps reduce the impacts that climate change has on people and wildlife.

      Backyard Practices To Prepare for Climate Change
      • Landscape with native plants. Natural landscaping requires less maintenance and water, as well as provides homes for local wildlife.
      • Install vegetative buffer zones to prevent runoff from carrying excess nutrients and reduces erosion. Vegetation in urban areas also provides cooling effects.Removing impermeable surfaces, such as pavement or asphalt, allows water to filter into the ground and reduces flooding.
      • Install a drip hose to help reduce water waste and even erosion, while also saving you money on your water bills because you will use less water.
      • Use a rainbarrel to capture water that can be used for re-used for watering your yard.
        Include a bioswale or raingarden into your backyard to help filter pollutants and reduce runoff by allowing water to slowly infiltrate into the ground.
      • Plant and protect trees in your backyard and in your neighborhood will not only help absorb stormwater, but will also provide shade and cooling benefits which is important as temperatures rise.


      This article first appeared on National Wildlife Federation website.

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      1. Albert says:

        Alex, I understand the reason why California does not have reservoirs as needed, is because the environmentalists are against reservoirs. They are not natural so they are by religion against them… so is my understanding. The environmentalist support the democrats and California is mostly democrats and do much of what the environmentalists want. Further the environmentalists do not really like to do things that can support more moving to California. End our high taxes, highest gas prices, water shortage, etc… then more people can live here; I believe they do not want that.
        I suppose they like squeezing out as many of the poor and middle class to make us a richer less populated state.

        • Alex Nodopaka says:


          So good to hear from you!

          Assuming there is selective truth in what you say, my opinion of the American electorate has just plummeted even further. However, putting aside political differences and assuming the public is if not capable of intelligent decision-making on its own but good at accepting fads then we should take charge and guide their vote into checking “our” chosen rectangle under: Proposition We Want Water Reservoirs!

          I understand that since I talk voting, the average citizen can’t make head or tail of the propositions when they are up for a vote and they randomly check mark without thinking where the chads may lead them. So, we must bamboozle oops! “educate” the voters by guiding their voting finger.

          By the way, building the aforementioned reservoirs is a much more intelligent and less expensive venture and has more socially redeeming values than spending zillions on bombing far away countries.

          As to preventing “foreigners” from invading California we build a wall… and bomb them if necessary! It’ll satisfy most Republicans and in that manner will give an innumerable number of illegal aliens honest jobs while we dunk in our swimming pools and piss away precious water. I suggest the walls are decorated in Spanish design tiles… that way I won’t have to go over the border to enjoy an exotic culture… lol

          • Albert says:

            Oh Alex… I did like the 1 idea of a proposition. I remember prop 13 passed despite it not being wanted by many politicians.

            If we are real lucky maybe a company that stands to profit from building at least 1 reservoir will give it a try and the public will vote it through.

            Other states wonder why we don’t just build more reservoirs?

            I do not think many know what the true quiet agenda is, that I spoke about in my previous post.

            It would not please the leadership, but I think the masses of members of the environmental groups would appreciate more reservoirs if they were created in a more beautiful design with public recreation in mind, rather than a closed off utility.

      2. Alex Nodopaka says:

        With water having always been a problem in southern California I wonder why no one has built very, very, I mean very large reservoirs down hill near each shore cities before rain runoff wastes in the ocean. Apparently the money spent on parking lots is way more important. Now look, building such reservoirs besides being functional become great resting and wholesome entertainment places especially when adorned with proper lush foliaged landscaping. I’m tired of small capitalist thinkers who reinvest money in self-gratification and self-aggrandizing. Now that I think about it they could charge a price of admission to such waterscaping and sell the water back to us at a huge profit during times of drought. Drink or die should be the capitalists’ motto!

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