Lake-Friendly Living Guide: Stormwater Basics



We are introducing a series of posts that make up a Lake-Friendly Living Guide to engage the public in action-oriented ways to protect Lake Hopatcong. All property owners in the Lake Hopatcong watershed, not just lakefront property owners, can make a difference. The first post in our Lake-Friendly Living Guide series focuses on Stormwater Basics and suggests actions everyone can take to reduce stormwater runoff. Stormwater is one of the largest contributors of pollutants to Lake Hopatcong. Tune in each week to learn more about what you can do for our lake!

What is stormwater runoff?

Stormwater runoff is rainwater that falls onto impervious  surfaces, such as roads, rooftops, and other paved surfaces, and runs downhill until it drains into a body of water. As the water flows over these surfaces, pollutants such as debris, sediment, and chemicals are picked up and deposited into lakes, streams, and rivers.

Pollutants carried by stormwater runoff

Animal waste
Litter/debris
Motor oil/grease
Yard clippings
Fertilizers and pesticides
Soaps and cleaners
Sediment
Bacteria
Microplastics

The consequences of stormwater runoff

–  Decline in water quality and clarity from pollutants and sediment
–  Impeded navigation due to sediment
–  Increased weed and algal growth due to excess nutrients
–  Unsafe water for swimming from bacteria and pathogens
–  Harm to aquatic life from debris as well as hazardous materials (pesticides, paints, motor oil, etc.)
–  Erosion of stream banks and loss of habitat

What you can do to protect Lake Hopatcong

  • Reduce the total amount of impervious surfaces by replacing them with natural walkways, gravel, or permeable pavements.
  • Add trees, shrubs, and mulch to expanses of lawn in order to capture and hold rainwater. Divert on-site runoff and rain gutters to gardens or small depressions where water has time to infiltrate the soil.
  • Maintain native vegetative buffers along the lakefront. Consider developing a “rain garden” — landscaped depressions that are designed to capture stormwater flow from roofs, driveways, and other hard surfaces and filter it into the ground away from the lake.
  • Never wash soaps or cleaning products directly in the lake. Avoid washing boats or cars on impervious surfaces where the detergent will run straight into the lake.
  • Avoid the use of pesticides and fertilizers. If you have to use lawn products, use only phosphorus-free fertilizers. Don’t fertilize right before a rainstorm and never fertilize along the shoreline. Pesticides and fertilizers can harm fish, cause algae blooms, and accelerate the lake’s eutrophication.

Next up in our Lake-Friendly Living Guide series: Go native! Install rain gardens and vegetative buffers

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