For Homeowners

Septic System - Credit John Bein

Septic System - Credit John Bein

If you are a homeowner in the watershed you can do a few things to improve water quality in Big Creek Lake.  First, if your home has a septic system make sure it is functioning, you may be able to get a low interest loan to help with repairs or replacement. Click here for more information.

Also don’t just landscape…RAINSCAPE!  Rainscaping creates beautiful landscapes that manage water sustainably. It includes the installation of stormwater management practices that result in the improvement and protection of water resources in urban areas.

Rain Garden

Rain Garden

Rainfall runs off roofs, sidewalks, driveways, streets and compacted lawns. The water then flows into the street, down the storm drain, through the storm sewer to the nearest stream, river or lake. Along the way it picks up pollutants, such as fertilizer, grass clippings, sediment, pet waste, oil, heavy metals, bacteria and more. Untreated stormwater degrades water quality.

You can help prevent these pollutants from reaching Big Creek Lake by incorporating Rainscaping practices into your landscape. Do it yourself or hire a certified Rainscaper trained in the design and installation of Rainscaping features. Either way, you can create beautiful and functional rainscapes that reduce runoff and improve water quality. (link to find a certified rainscaper http://www.rainscapingiowa.org/index.php/rainscapers)

Rainscaping practices include

  • Using phosphorus free fertilizer on your lawns. Click here for more information.
  • Restoring soil quality.  As buildings and houses are built, valuable topsoil is removed and the remaining subsoil is compacted by heavy grading equipment and construction activity. Healthy soil is the first step in preventing polluted runoff. Soil quality restoration begins with the decompaction of soils. Compost is added to further increase the soil’s organic matter content, which helps a yard absorb more rain.
  • Installing native landscaping. Hardy native plants and grasses with deep root systems help restore soil quality over time. This helps landscapes absorb more rainfall and reduces the amount of runoff. Native landscaping attracts songbirds, dragonflies, butterflies and other desirable species.
  • Harvesting your rainwater.Harvesting rainwater is gaining in popularity. You can start with a single rain barrel, or employ larger and more elaborate systems to capture large quantities of rainwater and significantly reduce runoff. A 1,500 square foot ranch house sheds about 1,000 gallons per inch of rain.

    Understanding water movement around a home

    Understanding water movement around a home

  • Installing a rain garden.  A rain garden is a landscaped depression that captures rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces, such as roofs or driveways. Runoff collected in a rain garden is temporarily ponded before seeping down through the soil. Installing a rain garden helps restore a landscape’s ability to manage water more sustainably.
  • Installing permeable pavement. Roads, parking lots and driveways account for more than 60% of impervious surfaces in urban areas and are the largest generators of stormwater runoff. Permeable pavement systems allow water to infiltrate into layers of rock placed below the pavers and then into surrounding soils.
  • Installing native turf.  Native turf features a combination of low growing native grasses that create a turf like appearance. A blend of blue grama, buffalograss and sideoats grama is recommended. Its deep, fibrous root system will help build and maintain soil quality. Native turf is only adapted to well drained, sunny sites.

For more information about these practices please contact one of the project coordinators or visit http://www.rainscapingiowa.org/