Ways to Control Water Pollution through Stormwater Infiltration

Plant a rain garden, use rain barrels for water retention, and plant trees! Your yard will be beautiful and our earth thanks you!

Stormwater runoff—the water that is not absorbed into the soil during rainstorms, harms our community in many ways, causing flooding, soil erosion and drawing pollutants from our roadways into our streams, drinking water, and ecosystems.  

“Infiltration” projects are engineered to create or to use existing green space to draw rainwater into the soil—nature’s own very effective water treatment system.  When rain water is absorbed by soil, pollutants and silt are filtered out by the time the water reaches Ridley Creek, the source of our area’s drinking water. Communities that can increase infiltration of stormwater will reduce runoff and improve the quality of their water.  Practices that increase infiltration are known as “green infrastructure.”

A few years ago the borough completed a Stormwater Master Plan that outlines a green infrastructure strategy for Media.  Two projects outlined in the plan have been funded by the Growing Greener Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and PennDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program.  The projects—one in the north part of the borough and one in the south– will build green infrastructure such as stormwater tree trenches and bioretention basins (rain gardens) to increase infiltration and decrease flooding.  The projects are currently in planning and will undergo construction over the next 2 years. Look for more news about them in upcoming Newsletters.

In the meantime, we offer the following tips on spring and summer yard care practices that encourage the absorption of rainfall in your own yards:

Lawns: • Leave grass clippings on your lawn • Cut grass at 3 ½ inches tall • Avoid fertilizers • Seed your lawn with a fine fescue grass seed mixture

Mulch:  • Replace some of your lawn with mulched beds, a rain garden, or pocket meadow •  Mulched beds trap and infiltrate more rainwater than lawn or bare soil • Mulch all bare soil in planted beds and under trees and shrubs;  • Use root or leaf mulch rather than fresh woodchips, which may harm plants.

Gardens:  • Start a perennial flower or vegetable patch, build a bog or rain garden, or establish a pocket meadow.  Plants of all kinds help reduce stormwater runoff from residential properties. Their roots absorb water and break up and aerate the soil as they grow • Flowering native perennials attract beneficial predators and pollinator birds, butterflies, and other insects • Chemical pesticides and herbicides damage beneficial insects and soil structures. Use biological controls (such as beneficial nematodes to control Japanese beetle grubs) or environmentally-friendly pest treatments • Spot treat specific weed patches rather than treating the entire lawn or garden.

Roof runoff: • Redirect downspouts that drain onto paved surfaces and storm sewers to flow into a rain barrel, rain garden, mulched bed or grassy area • Minimize impervious surfaces such as asphalt and concrete on walks, patios, and driveways on your property. Replace them with gravel or pervious blocks or pavers that allow rain and excess water runoff to soak.

Plant trees: • Large trees are great stormwater control. At maturity, they intercept over 1,000 gallons of rainwater each year. Their foliage and bark reduce runoff by intercepting rainfall, and their broad-leaf canopies also reduce the force of rain hitting the soil, reducing erosion.

From Philadelphia Water Department
Components of a Residential Rain Barrel

See the following urls for more information: