LETTER: A look at why stormwater flow creates problems for Hinkson Creek

Thursday, October 15, 2009 | 1:08 p.m. CDT; updated 2:48 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 15, 2009

There is passionate discussion surrounding the recommended actions needed to improve Hinkson Creek. My interest is to help readers understand why stormwater flow creates problems for a stream and what they can do to help alleviate the problem.

Non-permeable surfaces such as roofs, driveways, parking lots, direct rain water into our stormwater systems (our streams), instead of allowing rain to fall upon the natural landscape and slowly seep into the earth. Resulting in a larger volume of water diverted at a quicker pace into streams than would naturally occur, causing erosion at stream banks. Water running over parking lots picks up pollutants and heat from the pavement. We already know pollution is bad for streams, but the heat can decrease oxygen content in the water, stressing or killing fish and macro-invertebrates living in the streams.

While discussions ensue on stormwater reduction, please realize that each citizen can help in his or her own yards. Rain gardens collect water from downspouts and pavement surfaces into natural depressions, holding the water for a day or two and allowing the rainwater to seep slowly into the earth. Using native plants with deep root systems allows them to thrive without watering, filters the pollutants, and cools the water. An average residential rain garden can hold about 500 gallons of water, after installation takes less maintenance than a regular garden, and it is beautiful.

Rain gardens are one of many steps towards improving our storm water problems. To learn more, visit our rain garden Web site at:

Julia Karll is a member of the Columbia/Boone County Rain Garden Program, Missouri Clean Water AmeriCorp and Missouri River Communities Network.

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