Whether your properties are located in drought prone areas or a rainy peninsula, more intense storms are on the way due to climate change. Developing a plan to manage the rainfall before it starts raining can ensure that this precious commodity becomes an asset not a liability.
It might seem counterintuitive but the answers to stormwater management techniques are generally the same whether you live in a temperate, maritime, continental or other zone. For decades the basic principle of residential stormwater management has been to direct all water away from the building or household and off into the street where it becomes the problem of municipal authorities. While the need to keep water from pooling at the base of buildings is valid, the idea that rainwater is of little use to us except to wash the down streets is antiquated.
With less than one-percent of the world’s water made up of fresh water, it has become imperative for property management professionals to take a greater hand in managing this most precious resource. Whether you live in the North or South, East or West, the basic process of stormwater management for independent rental operators includes collecting the water, sinking it or diverting it using a variety of methods including vegetation, permeable paving and cisterns.
Cisterns are plastic or metal tanks used to collect and store rainwater. They vary in size from 50 -100 gallon tanks, typically called rain barrels, to much larger tanks such in common use on farms. In more urban and suburban settings, rain barrels and larger cisterns are fed by the roof’s gutters. The captured or harvested rainwater can then be used to water plants later in the season or, assuming the tank is large enough, the water can be pumped into the washing machine or commode.
Another way to help manage torrential rain is through the use of permeable paving. Think of permeable paving as organized cracks in the sidewalk that allow water to pass through and penetrate to the ground. Using groundcover plants or local gravel fill between the paving elements can yield quite attractive results while effectively managing snow or rainfall. Driveways, parking areas and ground floor patio areas can all benefit from permeable paving strategically incorporated into the design. There are many permeable paving products that meet the weight restrictions of emergency vehicles and thus can be installed in areas normally reserved for parking.
Finally, one of the best ways to address stormwater management (not to mention climate change) is to plant trees. Trees are stormwater management experts, holding water not only through their root systems but also their leaves. To be sure, give some thought as to the species of tree, its appropriateness for the climate zone and its placement on the property. Keep in mind that trees can provide shade in summer as well as light in winter. They can be used to screen power lines or unattractive views while ‘inhaling’ carbon dioxide and ‘exhaling’ oxygen as all plants do.
Where possible consider the landscaping and hardscaping of driveways and patios an important part of any beautification or water conservation plan. Also check with your city or county about rebates on cisterns. Even small steps can have a positive impact in reducing stormwater damage.