Aquatic Health and Habitat Use

Green Overhead

Sun Trust Bank Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia

Sun Trust Bank Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia

Green roofs are roofs that have plants and grasses on top of them. They offer a number of benefits including being an innovative tool to reduce stormwater runoff. Normally, rainwater rushes from rooftops and other hard surfaces into nearby streams and rivers. In highly urban areas, this sudden surge of water can erode the banks of these streams and rivers. Because of the vegetation on top of green roofs, the rainwater that would have poured from the roof is captured by the plants. Green roofs are becoming more popular — SunTrust Bank Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia installed one on its building. and a number of federal government buildings are also getting green roofs.

Is this an idea that’s ready to sprout?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Control Your Stormwater and Save Money, Use a Rain Barrel

Did you know that lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer? Rain barrels provide free water to use during these high water usage periods, saving most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water as well as saving money and energy. A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams. Usually a rain barrel is a 55 gallon drum with a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items.


Rain Barrel connected to a gutter downspout

Rain Barrel connected to a gutter downspout

It’s relatively simple and inexpensive to construct one and it can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout collecting and storing water for when you need it most — during periods of drought — to water plants, wash your car, or top off a swimming pool.

Do you use rain barrels? If so, we invite you to comment to us about it. If you don’t currently use one, would you ever consider installing one? If not, why not?



Check out some of these projects in Maryland, Virginia and other Mid Atlantic States.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Gurgle, Gurgle

Annapolis, Maryland after sea-level rise

Annapolis, Maryland after sea-level rise

What would it be like to see the Mid Atlantic coastline as a town like Venice, Italy? If you live by the shore, there are scenes that may be even more spectacular.

Check out this series of slides by the Maryland Sea Grant College that visualizes the impact of sea level rise along the Maryland coast. The Maryland Climate Change Commission estimates that sinking land and rising seas driven by climate change could cause shoreline waters there to rise 1.3 feet by the middle of the century.

Several EPA regions, including the Mid-Atlantic, and our Office of Research and Development are planning a conference this spring to address the water-related impacts of climate change.

EPA Press conference on Green House Gases

EPA Press conference on Green House Gases

If you’re interested in their findings, let us know and we’ll report back to you. In the meantime, is your carbon footprint lighter these days? Tell us about it.

And take a look at the EPA Press Conference on Green House Gases

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Sticking to a Pollution Diet

Click to visit the Mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Bay TMDL website

Map of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Bob Koroncai and Rich Batiuk are diet gurus of sorts. It’s not love handles these veteran EPA officials are after. Their target is the excess pounds of nutrients and sediment that are clogging the arteries of the Chesapeake Bay and creating unhealthy conditions for the nation’s largest estuary.
Like food, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are good things at the right levels. But the bay and its rivers, streams and creeks are getting far too much of the stuff, choking off oxygen for fish and crabs, and blocking light needed by underwater grasses.
Koroncai and Batiuk are taking their sweatsuits and whistles throughout the massive Chesapeake Bay watershed to help the states and the District of Columbia do what it takes to shrink their pollution waistlines. But the effort needs your help. There are many ways to lighten up on the nutrients you deliver to your local waters — from driving less to skipping the spring fertilizer. Check out this list of actions you can take to help protect your favorite river or stream.
Have you taken any of these steps or others? Our EPA dieticians want to know.

And for the latest information on the effort to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, sign up for our June 7 webinar and visit our website at www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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It’s Raining Flowers, So Hold Your Water

Beneficial uses of Rain Gardens

Beneficial uses of Rain Gardens

On my block, you’ll know if we had a good rain if the river of water along the street curbs and sidewalks is heading to the corner storm drain. Heck, why waste that water when I can keep it on my property and grow a lovely rain garden. I planted one in 2009. It’s a modest little rain-sucker, but one that at least showed I cared. It makes good sense to plant a rain garden and take other steps to contain rainwater on your property and to do more for the environment with these tips. How does a rain garden work? The soil and plants absorb the water and filter pollution. The garden slows down and reduces the volume of rainfall runoff before it enters the drain, but doesn’t pond since it’s quick draining. The water from your roof, driveway and sidewalk collects fertilizers, pet waste, oil and other pollutants as it runs off into the nearest storm drain and out into your local river or stream. Rain gardens are just one way to contain runoff and protect your streams and rivers. You can find more suggestions here. Have you planted a rain garden, installed a rain barrel or taken other steps to reduce runoff? If so, let us know how you’re doing in holding your water.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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