Effectively managing stormwater is important to all of us. Poorly managed stormwater runoff causes flash floods and accumulates in low-lying areas (like your basement).
Roofs, driveways, sidewalks, roads– housing developments are full of surfaces that do not absorb water. Poor construction practices can
greatly increase the amount of sediment in runoff. This is important, since sedimentation is a major problem in Tuttle Creek, Milford, Perry and Clinton flood control reservoirs on the Kansas River system.
Stormwater washes fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and animal waste off lawns and farmland. It carries pollutants into lakes and rivers used for drinking water supplies. These increase nutrients in reservoirs, leading to algal blooms and “skunky” tasting water. Some severe algal blooms can become toxic.
In contrast, the plants and soils of a natural prairie absorb much (if not all) of the rain during a Kansas thunderstorm. And stormwater that is absorbed by soil and plants is actually cleaned of nutrients and many other pollutants. This is why planting buffer strips and rain gardens not only reduces the amount of stormwater runoff, it improves the quality of stormwater runoff that flows off the land and into the river.
Rivers all over the nation are suffering from pollution from stormwater runoff. The map below highlights areas where water quality is degraded by runoff because of the large proportion of the watershed that is covered in impervious surfaces (such as asphalt, concrete, and roofing materials that are impervious to water). In Kansas this is especially true in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, Johnson County, Topeka and Wichita.
This website provides solutions to the problems caused by stormwater runoff in the Kansas River watershed.