Where does the water go when it rains? How about the rain that falls on your property? What about the rain that lands in the street, parking lots or other impervious surfaces?
Well, some rain will soak into the land, but rain can't penetrate the impervious surfaces (roof tops, driveways, walkways etc.). So, unless measures are taken to capture or direct that rainfall into rain barrels or rain gardens and other areas that can absorb the rainfall, it will likely end up in the street gutter. From there, it enters a storm drain and eventually ends up in a body of water like Candlewood Lake. If you live on Candlewood your storm water runoff will flow directly into the Lake unless preventative measures are taken.
All of this storm water can carry with it pollutants (auto fluids, lawn chemicals and fertilizers etc.), which enter street gutters and storm drains. These storm drains unfortunately do not flow to water treatment centers. They flow directly to bodies of water, including many streams that flow directly into our lakes.
Stormwater runoff, and the problems associated with it, are a large contributor to lake-issue, so controlling your storm water, so that it soaks into the ground will help keep our lakes clean.
The above image was taken following a strong rain event in Hollywyle Cove in New Fairfield, where Ball Pond Brook enters Candlewood Lake. Stormwater carries with it a lot of visibile trash and pollution, along with many that they naked eye can't see.
What can you do to prevent stormwater runoff on your property and make your property more lake-friendly?
There are many things you can do to make your property lake-friendly. Since, stormwater carries pollutants with it and can build in both volume and speed as it runs downhill causing further erosion, properly dealing with and trying to prevent stormwater runoff are important lake protection measures. Below are six suggestions for making your property more lake-friendly.
1) Create Buffers - A buffer, or "riparian buffer", is a strip of land with vegetation such as plants, shrubs and trees along the shoreline separating your lawn from the water. This strip of land helps to stabilize the shoreline and prevent erosion while catching runoff from your lawn. It will help to absorb things such as fertilizers and pesticides and trap sediment before they can enter the Lake. In addition, it also provides habitat for birds and other small wildlife while acting as a barrier to nuisance Canada geese who may fear a predatory animal is hiding in there.
2) Install Rain Gardens/Rain Barrels - A rain garden is a depression in the ground, which is filled with plants and shrubs, that acts to catch runoff from rooftop downspouts, driveways etc. The depression fills with the water so that it doesn't run down the property, and the water is absorbed into the soil and used by the plants. A rain barrel would also collect rooftop runoff from downspouts, however rain barrels collect and hold the water for such things as gardening and watering other yard plants.
3) Reduce Impervious Surfaces - Impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways and sidewalks don't absorb storm water. Instead it runs down those surfaces, building in speed and volume. Reducing the amount and effects from impervious surfaces is important. One such way is to reduce the overall impervious surface totals on one's property. Replacing an asphalt driveway or cement walkway with a more porous surface, such as block or crushed stone, is one such method. Some municipalities around Candlewood Lake have zoning regulations relative to impervious surface coverage - please check with your municipality for details.
4) Ensure Proper Lot Drainage - By adding culverts, diversions, ditches, sump pumps etc. where necessary you can help to prevent erosion and encourage infiltration of runoff into soil. We recommend consulting with a professional and contacting your local land use office to ensure you are in compliance before redirecting drainage water.
5) Utilize Twisting, Narrow Paths - Long straight paths and walkways that lead down a hill (and especially towards the Lake), act as direct water chutes into the lake, carrying nutrients, sediment and debris with the water. By creating a narrow, twisting path, the water won't have a straight run into the lake and instead it will encourage infiltration of the runoff into the soil.
6) Don't Use Fertilzers and Chemicals - One easy way to keep some pollutants out of Candlewood is to not use them in the first place.