When existing trees and other plants are replaced with streets, rooftops, and driveways during development, the amount of rain that soaks into the ground is significantly reduced. Instead, that rain is now routed toward the nearest lake or streams with the potential for flooding.
Storm drains are designed to move water from developed areas as quickly as possible. When it rains, street gutters and storm drains deliver pollutants to the nearest lake or stream at a "rapid transit" pace. Storm water is not treated at a sewage treatment plant, so grass clippings, pet waste, oil and whatever is in the street gets washed directly to the nearest lake or stream. So, even if you don’t have shoreline, the lake is as close as the nearest storm drain.
But there is so much you can do right in your community to help the lakes throughout the year.
- Use less de-icing salt on your walk ways and driveway.
- Aim your mower so that grass clippings blow back on to the lawn instead of in the street. Sweep any grass clippings that do land in the street off the pavement and back onto your lawn.
- Get your soil tested before purchasing any fertilizer.
- Aim downspouts to grassy areas away from pavement.
- Keep leaves out of the street. Compost leaves and grass clippings.
- Plant a rain garden.
- Install a rain barrel.
- Contact your local officials about storm water concerns where you live.
- Encourage detention ponds and other storm water management practices that reduce runoff pollution by temporarily holding water or letting it soak into the ground.
- Encourage the safe but conservative use of salt on roads and limit application to critical areas.
- Tell public officials about your interest in cleaning up local waters and about their value to recreation and the economy.
- Support the preservation of wetlands as natural filters that protect water quality, prevent flooding, and provide vital open space.
- Promote "environmental or parkway corridors" adjacent to streams and waterways for water quality, wildlife, and multiple-use benefits.
- Participate in groups, projects and events that promote conservation, waterfront recreation, or shoreline clean-ups.
- Click on the links below to visit web sites that address things you can do in your home and community to protect the streams and lakes. Support and follow ordinances that limit soil erosion from construction sites.
- Click on your municipality to learn more about how to contact your local officials.
- Contact the Dane County UWEX office at 608-224-3700 for more information on volunteering to mark storm drains. Storm-drain-marking-instructions-2016.pdf
- If using a septic tank system, maintain it properly through regular inspections and licensed pumping every two to three years.
What you do around your home matters. You can help your lakes and streams. It’s easy. And myfairlakes.com can help you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.