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Storm Water

The hazards of melting snow

Winters can have a lot of snow, but in our mid-state region the thermometer can hit 45º in February or March. Although March can be the snowiest month of the year, it also marks the official start to spring. It brings the possibility of a few warm days. But it also means melting snow which produces muddy roads and soggy yards in the Saginaw Valley.

Unfortunately, the spring melt can wreak as much havoc on our local rivers, ponds and the Saginaw Bay as it does in our yards. That dirty snow which has sat for the last three or four months accumulating dust, trash, and other debris, will melt and carry its dirt and garbage down the street, gutters, ditches and into our local waterways.

The sheer volume of stormwater created by melting snow can often overwhelm local drainage systems. In a natural system, deep-rooted plants and tree roots absorb the melting snow. Sometimes the water collects in pockets on the land, creating vernal (seasonal) pools that act as breeding grounds for frogs, salamanders and insects such as dragonflies and damselflies. In our modern society, however, driveways, houses and roads often disrupt these natural systems. These hard surfaces cannot absorb the stormwater runoff and instead channel it to storm drains, culverts and local ponds. The result is flooding, stream bank erosion, and dirty water.

Increase the ability of your yard to absorb water by aerating your lawn, planting trees and deep-rooted plants, and building raingardens. A mature tree canopy will capture 1600 gallons of water per year, while a 100 sq. ft. raingarden will absorb another 9000 gallons.