Homeowners Stormwater Guide

Make Your Property Watershed Friendly

Everyone has the opportunity and the responsibility to become a watershed steward. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a specific body or water such as a stream, lake or ocean.

The Brandywine and Red Clay Watersheds are critical natural resources that you can help protect by practicing “good watershed housekeeping” in and outside your home.  If you own a property with a stream or waterway, be aware that most waterways have certain protections in Pennsylvania and Delaware.  While property owners can clean up natural debris in streams and banks, a permit is required to dredge a stream or bank, build a bridge across a stream or alter the stream banks with rip rap or other materials.  To learn more click here for Pennsylvania guidelines and here for Delaware guidelines.

  • Plant more trees and shrubs These help to break the fall of raindrops which slow stormwater runoff, and allows more rainfall to soak into the ground.
  • Do not mow right up to the stream bank. This zone along streams is called the riparian zone. Leave an unmowed buffer along streams. This helps protect the stream from erosion and slows runoff before it enters the stream. Planting native bushes and trees in the riparian zone shades the stream,  stabilize stream banks and creates additional habitat for birds and other wildlife. Click here for additional information about riparian zones.
  • Always properly dispose of household hazardous substances. Paints, motor oil, batteries, tires, cleaners, solvents, pesticides, fertilizers etc. are hazardous to wildlife, plants and humans. Never pour these chemicals down your drain, into a stormdrain or on the ground. Visit Chester County SWA for information on recycling and hazardous waste disposal.
  • Have your on-lot septic tank cleaned by a professional at least once every 3 yearsSludge collects in the septic tank and as the tank becomes filled the fluid can not flow into the drainage beds. Raw sewage can overflow into the ground or back up into your house.
  • Always clean up after your pet and properly dispose of the waste.Animal waste can wash into and pollute our streams and even the groundwater.
  • If you have livestock on your property fence off the riparian zone along the creek, to prevent animals from entering the stream. Install stream crossings with your local conservation district if needed.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Fertilizers and pesticides can wash off the ground and pavement and be carried with the next rain into our streams.  Use a mulching mower and test your soil to determine the fertilizers needed.
  • Maintain your automobile to prevent oil and coolant leaks.Oil and other automobile fluids can wash off roadways and parking lots polluting our streams.
  • Re-direct your downspouts away from driveways and sideways onto vegetated areas. This helps slow the runoff and allows the rainwater to soak into the ground.
  • Install a rain barrel at one or more of your downspouts. Rain barrels collect and store rainwater from your roof to use later for watering lawns and gardens. Rain barrels lower water costs and reduces water pollution by reducing stormwater runoff which contains pollutants like sediment, oil, bacteria and nutrients.
  • Convert small depression areas into rain gardens. These small gardens help retain runoff and allow the rain to soak into the ground instead of flowing into nearby streams. Rain gardens are attractive solutions to erosion problems or soggy areas in your yard.
  • Always Conserve Water. Water conservation is important even when there is no drought. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk.  Water your garden early or late in the day. Never leave a faucet running. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Fix dripping faucets or running toilets. Use low flow shower heads and toilets.