Water is a limited resource that is essential to all life. At a time when demand for water in the United States is up 209 percent since 1950, the typical single-family suburban household uses at least 30 percent of their water outdoors for irrigation. Meanwhile, in many older cities and towns around the country, rainfall is treated as waste, to be funneled directly from roof gutters and paved surfaces to sewers, leading to increased costs in stormwater management.
Rather than getting rid of stormwater as quickly as possible, a sustainable approach to stormwater management involves finding ways to harvest it on site, using it for irrigation, ornamental water features, and groundwater recharge. As the value of water is recognized, the value of natural systems to store, clean, and distribute available fresh water must also be recognized. Technology exists to integrate systems that mimic nature’s capacity to store, filter, and clean water.
Examples of Sustainable Practices
Protect and restore existing hydrologic functions
Avoid development and disturbance near streams and wetlands, and in sites with high risk of flooding. Plant native or appropriate non-native vegetation, re-grade soils where necessary, and use soft engineering techniques to restore the functions of floodplains, and riparian and wetland buffers.