Constructed wetlands mimic natural systems and are highly effective tools against the point source pollution caused by stormwater runoff. (Allissa Bunner)

VA - In Full Bloom: Crusade against stormwater runoff includes arsenal of management practices

Being a Hampton Roads resident means an uncomfortable familiarity with stormwater. Few of us have escaped the summer storms that bring the deluge of rain, wreaking havoc on the side streets’ traffic. Thankfully each city has a stormwater management department on its own crusade, combating the flash flooding and the subsequent waterway pollution.

Stormwater maintenance includes maintaining ditches and pump stations, clearing lots and collecting wayward shopping carts, street sweeping and structure repair — a checklist of work that is never complete. The crusade against stormwater is an important one, being that all stormwater makes its way into our waterways virtually untreated.

There are several types of best management practices, like rain gardens, rain barrels and permeable hardscapes, that can be employed by homeowners to help reduce stormwater impacts. Commercial and municipal practices include grass buffers, extended detention basins and sand filter basins. Constructed wetlands are also in the stormwater management arsenal and are cost effective to install and maintain. Constructed wetlands mimic natural systems and are designed to remove pollutants using infiltration into the soil and filtration by plants. The plants add aesthetic value and habitat, making them valuable to our birds and pollinators — as well as our coastal cities. The Environmental Protection Agency in the Guidance for Federal Land Management in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed lists constructed wetlands as one of the most effective means of pollutant removal for urban areas.

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