In urban and suburban areas, much of the land surface is covered by buildings and pavement, which do not allow rain and snowmelt to soak into the ground. Instead, most developed areas rely on storm drains to carry large amounts of runoff from roofs and paved areas to nearby waterways. The stormwater runoff carries pollutants such as oil, dirt, chemicals, and lawn fertilizers directly to streams and rivers, where they seriously harm water quality.
The porous and varied terrain of natural landscapes like forests, wetlands, and grasslands traps rainwater and snowmelt and allows them to filter slowly into the ground. In contrast, impervious (nonporous) surfaces like roads, parking lots, and rooftops prevent rain and snowmelt from infiltrating, or soaking, into the ground. Most of the rainfall and snowmelt remains above the surface, where it runs off rapidly in unnaturally large amounts.
Increased Pollutant Loads
Urbanization increases the variety and amount of pollutants carried into streams, rivers, and lakes. The pollutants include:
- Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from motor vehicles
- Pesticides and nutrients from lawns and gardens
- Viruses, bacteria, and nutrients from pet waste and failing septic systems
- Road salts
- Heavy metals from roof shingles, motor vehicles, and other sources
- Thermal pollution from dark impervious surfaces such as streets and rooftops
These pollutants can harm fish and wildlife populations, kill native vegetation, foul drinking water supplies, and make recreational areas unsafe and unpleasant.
What Homeowners Can Do
To decrease polluted runoff from paved surfaces, households can develop alternatives to areas traditionally covered by impervious surfaces. Porous pavement materials are available for driveways and sidewalks, and native vegetation and mulch can replace high maintenance grass lawns. Homeowners can use fertilizers sparingly and sweep driveways, sidewalks, and roads instead of using a hose. Instead of disposing of yard waste, they can use the materials to start a compost pile.
In addition, households can prevent polluted runoff by picking up after pets and using, storing, and disposing of chemicals properly. Drivers should check their cars for leaks and recycle their motor oil and antifreeze when these fluids are changed. Drivers can also avoid impacts from car wash runoff (e.g., detergents, grime, etc.) by using car wash facilities that do not generate runoff. Households served by septic systems should have them professionally inspected and pumped every 3 to 5 years.
A home water filtration system is your best defense against the potential contamination from excess storm water runoff. A filtration system will remove excess sediment, contaminants and unpleasant tastes and odors from your water.
If you have any questions about the quality of your water, or if you’d like a water treatment system serviced or installed in your home, contact EPA Water Consultants. We service and install Hague water filtration systems in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including towns like East Norriton, Elverson and Emmaus, PA.
For 25 years, EPA Water Consultants have been working with homeowners, home builders and businesses throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey to solve multiple water-related problems.Each install is completed by an EPA Water employee as if it was our home – no subcontractors! With our 100% water quality guarantee, EPA Water Consultants will provide the best water available to you and your home or business! Did we mention, we’re the Delaware Valley’s #1 Hague Quality Water Dealer?