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April Showers Bring Stormwater Practices

As sunny days grow nearer, so do spring’s rainstorms, so it’s a good time to start thinking about how to best manage stormwater on your property. In seasons past, you may have noticed standing water in your yard or erosion caused by heavy flowing water leaving the downspouts. That’s where we come in! Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District is an implementer of the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP), a reimbursement based cost-share program that offers landowners a suite of best management practices to help mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff. Best management practices must address a resource concern such as erosion, poorly vegetated cover, or poor drainage. 

Two landscaping practices that are implemented to help combat excess runoff and minimize the amount of bare soil are rain gardens and conservation landscaping. Rain gardens are shallow, landscaped depressions that allow stormwater to pond and eventually infiltrate into the soil below (Figure below). The infiltration process shouldn’t take more than 48 hours. Rain gardens can be tied into your existing drainage system — keeping roof runoff from other areas of the property. Conservation Landscaping also helps to minimize nutrient and water runoff by decreasing the amount of denuded or eroded soil. Both practices are required to be planted with native plants as specified in the Flora of Virginia Atlas. If you’d like some native plant resources or recommendations, feel free to reach out to district staff! Another infiltration-based practice that isn’t as heavily landscaped, and a little less noticeable, is a dry well. Dry wells are underground structures, an excavated gravel pit or structural chamber, that take in excess water allowing it to dissipate into the local groundwater system over time. An infiltration trench acts similarly but at a slightly larger and longer scale. 

Alternatively, you might be interested in a catchment system that stores runoff for late use like rainwater water harvesting cisterns. Like rain gardens, a rainwater harvesting system can be tied directly into your gutters and houses large amounts of water that can eventually be used to irrigate your garden, water the lawn or even wash your cars. 

These are just a few of the twelve practices offered by VCAP and we would love to tell you about the rest. For more information on a particular practice or on the program as a whole, give us a call at at (757) 645-4895 or visit the office at 205 Bulifants Boulevard, Suite C in Williamsburg. 

Read more articles in the Spring 2024 CSWCD Newsletter.

fertilize grass spring


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