September 20, 2014

HOME & GARDEN: Cost share program available for property owners to manage stormwater runoff

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The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District was recently awarded more than $25,000 from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ecosystem Restoration Program for a project aimed at reducing stormwater runoff in the Lake Champlain Basin. Called “Let it Rain,” the project is a joint venture with Lake Champlain Sea Grant and provides residential and commercial landowners with incentive payments for implementing stormwater best management practices on their property.

“Stormwater is a larger issue than people might think, especially in urban environments where there are lots of paved surfaces and rooftops,” says WNRCD District Manager Justin Kenney. “When rain hits these surfaces, it doesn’t have an opportunity to infiltrate into the ground. Instead, it runs off into a storm drain, picking up pollutants, chemicals, pathogens and debris along the way. In a small number of cases, that water receives treatment at a wastewater facility. For the most part, however, it gets dumped directly into a river, stream or lake.”

There are a number of things people can do to help reduce the amount of water flowing off their property. Gutters that are directly connected to sewer pipes can be redirected to grassy areas. Rain barrels and cisterns can be utilized to store and reuse rainwater. Rain gardens can be installed to treat roof runoff. Driveways can be redesigned to allow for more infiltration. All of these practices, while they may seem small, amount to a significant reduction in stormwater runoff.

“What I’ve seen time and time again are property owners interested in managing runoff on their property, but they have a lot of questions about what exactly to do and how to pay for it. I’m excited to be part of this program where we can offer both types of support,” said Laura Killian of UVM’s Lake Champlain Sea Grant, a partner on this program.

“With the launch of this program, we are calling on landowners to take a closer look at their stormwater footprint and ultimately take responsibility for it,” says Kenney. “We recognize that this can be difficult and we want people to know that we are here to help. With this funding, we are in a position to provide landowners with both technical and financial assistance. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

For more information about the program, visit http://www.uvm.edu/seagrant/let-it-rain or email [email protected]

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