This summer, Toledo, Ohio, issued a tap water ban when an algae bloom turned Lake Erie into a sea of green goo.
Both events are related to the issue of stormwater runoff, an issue that’s being highlighted by the Potomac Conservancy.
“Clearly something is wrong when the Nation’s Triathlon this year had to cancel the swim portion because of heavy rain delivering too much bacteria into the river,” says Hedrick Belin, president of the Potomac Conservancy.
Belin says stormwater run-off generates what he calls a “toxic stew” as rainwater picks up pollutants and runs into area waterways.
The good news, Belin says, is that reducing the impact of stormwater runoff doesn’t have to be expensive and doesn’t mean development has to be blocked.
Some simple solutions include planting more trees, establishing rooftop gardens and switching from surface parking lots to tiered parking facilities. Another solution suggested is reducing the amount of paved areas: trimming the dimensions of parking spaces, narrowing driveways and swapping out pavement for permeable surfaces that allow water to seep into the earth.
In its just-released report, the Potomac Conservancy issues a scorecard on efforts in Maryland and the District of Columbia to combat the problems generated by stormwater runoff. D.C., Montgomery and Prince George’s counties all scored in the 67 to 76 percent range.