One of the biggest issues associated with housing developments and activities moving into natural areas is the management of runoff waters. That is because excess water flowing through undeveloped land is usually absorbed into the soil. When impervious materials like concrete, cement and asphalt are introduced into the environment in parking lots, house foundations and new buildings, water cannot infiltrate back into the soil and runs off, creating potentially damaging flooding.

Usually this flooding is the result of precipitation or snow/ice melting. If the water does not soak back into the ground, it either evaporates or it runs off into other land areas or into streams, rivers or other bodies of water. This can cause erosion and pollution. The first run-off of a storm is called the “first flush.” The water picks up pollutants from the ground and delivers them to nearby stream or other bodies of water. In homes, the result can be basement flooding and sewer backup. Besides ruining furniture and carpets and damaging walls and foundations, consistent flooding can cause mold growth and other issues that affect health for homeowners.

Businesses are affected as well. It is estimated that 40 percent of small businesses that incur major flood damage never reopen. Cities and communities usually have stormwater plans to manage this potential hazard. In some cases, stormwater drainage plans divert the runoff to retention ponds which can treat the water and reuse it. This is especially helpful in states like New Mexico, where long periods of drought harden the dirt and create abundant runoff. These municipal stormwater plans usually involve sewer drains that divert water flowing through the streets into the sewer system. Another stormwater management plan example is that of a garden planted adjacent to a parking lot with runoff directed to irrigate the area. In fact, there are two primary ways that communities address flooding. One is through structural devices like gutters and flumes, that direct the water and the other is through diversion to retention ponds.

Even if your community has a plan to manage run-off, you may need a stormwater drainage plan of your own. The municipal plan may be inadequate, or may not address your run-off problems. If the community has plans and your property is still flooding during storms, you probably need a stormwater drainage plan that addresses your unique needs. In addition, many communities and incorporated areas require that all new buildings or additions to existing buildings, have a stormwater drainage plan before construction is approved. Factors to consider in preparing and implementing the plan might include , among others, things like the type of land where your building is situated, and its slope; distance from downspouts to your property line; natural areas like streams or tree lines on or near your property; near-by wells, cisterns and septic systems and the presence of driveways or streets that cannot absorb run-off. There are other considerations like the kind of vegetation that is on your land, or near your building. If your community requires you to have a plan to manage stormwater, you will probably need to complete a worksheet to ensure that your plan satisfies the community requirements. A decorative pond and stream system that is fed from downspouts is a stormwater management plan example homeowners might utilize.

Developing the plans can be a daunting task. If you are putting up a new building or adding on to your home or business, your contractor will likely take the responsibility. If, on the other hand, you are not using a contractor and must develop or update the plans on your own, you may need to consult a specialist in the management of stormwater. Management of the erosion and pollution that run-off may cause is important to protect the environment, property values and health of everyone.

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