Northwest Arkansas Stormwater Program
What is the NWA Urban Stormwater Education Program?
Eighteen Northwest Arkansas cities, Benton and Washington counties, and the University of Arkansas are partnering with the U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service and the NWA Regional Planning Commission on a regional approach to stormwater management.
Both the EPA and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality have recognized the collaborative NWA Urban Stormwater Education Program as an innovative and effective pollution prevention education effort to help protect the region's water resources.
Arkansas Stormwater Education
What is stormwater runoff?
When it rains, snows or sleets in Arkansas, where does that water go? Does it soak into the ground? Does it sit in puddles until it evaporates? The water actually does both of those things, but some of the water will also flow over the land surface, heading downhill to the nearest ditch or stream. This is called stormwater runoff.
Why is stormwater education important?
In Arkansas cities and towns, the water cannot soak in through the pavement, rooftops, and concrete like it can into the soil. This means that there's more stormwater runoff in cities than in forests and fields. The water flows off impervious surfaces such as driveways, rooftops, sidewalks, and parking lots, and usually flows straight into a storm drain. These openings along roads and in parking lots connect to pipes which carry the water directly to your local stream or lake.
How to protect water quality by redirecting downspouts
When it rains, stormwater runs over impervious hard surfaces picking up pollutants such as yard debris, trash, fertilizers, vehicle fluids, and pet waste, which are washed into storm drains that connect to local creeks.
One inch of rainfall creates approximately 623 gallons of water falling on a 1,000-square foot roof.
Downspouts transport stormwater away from buildings, often to a driveway or street into a storm drain that flows untreated to a creek. Interrupting the flow of stormwater runoff by keeping it on site and letting it soak into the ground, lessens the impact of stormwater downstream.
Slow it down and soak it in
To slow stormwater runoff and reduce pollution, redirect gutter downspouts to surfaces that can soak up water such as a yard or garden. Washed out spots at the base of a gutter can cause soil to wash away in stormwater. Add a splash guard or extender to your gutter’s downspout to direct it to a lawn or garden.
Sometimes gutters are piped underground all the way to the street or sidewalk. This does not give the water an opportunity to slow down or soak in creating, potential runoff issues.
Rain barrels can be a creative option for redirecting downspouts with added perks. Harvesting stormwater with rain barrels can offer many benefits including:
- Saving money on municipal water bills
- Reducing use of treated water for home irrigation
- Lowering peak demands on public water systems
- Reducing stormwater runoff volume and velocity which reduces potential for further erosion downstream
For more information on how to build rain barrels, please see our fact sheet on Building Rain Barrels.
Rain gardens are landscaped depressions that collect rainfall. These bowl-shaped gardens are designed to capture stormwater runoff and allow it to slowly percolate into the soil, recharging groundwater and removing stormwater pollutants.
The garden’s flat bottom helps distribute rain water evenly across the planted area. Topsoil amended with compost and sand allows the water to slowly soak into the ground within a few days so there is no standing water to breed mosquitoes.
Are you irrigating or irritating?
If you have an automatic system, don’t set it and forget it. Check your irrigation for excessive watering or misdirection of spray onto streets and sidewalks. Look for over-saturated ares that might indicate leaks. Any time water moves across the sidewalk or street, it can carry pollutants into a storm drain. Knowing your system can reduce runoff and save you money!
Stormwater flows untreated down our streets and drains directly to local creeks. Thanks for doing your part to keep it free of trash and other pollutants such as pet waste, chemicals, auto fluids, fertilizers and yard waste.
For more about what the NWA Urban Stormwater Education Program does download a copy of our