Valdosta rainbarrels to reduce runoff

Gretchen got a rainbarrel from the City of Valdosta, I got some concrete blocks, we set the barrel on the blocks and connected it to a PVC pipe from a raingutter. In about 20 minutes of rain, the 50-gallon rainbarrel was full. We don’t even live in Valdosta, but rainbarrels are also about preventing sewage spills; read on.

City of Valdosta Stormwater Division, Raining
Photograph: John S. Quarterman at Okra Paradise Farms, Lowndes County, Georgia.

Within an hour we had a hose hooked up and we used some of the water in transplanting trees.

Video, more pictures, and more links to materials from the city of Valdosta and the state of Georgia on a separate LAKE blog post.

Part of Valdosta’s incentive for this Stormwater Education Outreach can be inferred from Stormwater’s web page on Best Management Practices (BMPs), which lists first on the things you can do as a BMP “to prevent or reduce the pollution of the waters of the State of Georgia”:

  • Rain Barrel

Their watersheds page spells out why doing something is important:

A watershed is the land that drains into a body of water such as a stream, lake or wetland. Because water flows downhill, watershed boundaries are always located on the top of hills or mountains. Rain falling on one side of the hill will flow into one watershed, while rain falling on the other side of the hill will flow into another watershed. Any changes to the land in a watershed will affect the water body it drains into, such as a stream or pond.

underground rivers

As we develop land, creating more impervious surfaces such as roof tops, sidewalks, and streets, rain water has less area to soak into the soil. Instead, it flows over streets and sidewalks into storm drains that empty into our waterways, sometimes at high velocities which can cause erosion.

ground cover

Rainwater also picks up pollutants such as sediment from small construction sites, contaminants washed from streets, and fertilizers or pesticides washing from lawns. These pollutants then enter the stormwater system and are released into our waterways, without treatment. This type of pollution is called non-point source pollution. It is one of the major threats to rivers today. Because non-point source pollution is not associated with a specific point of entry into a water body, it is more difficult to regulate than point source pollution, pollution from a designated source. By taking the necessary steps to minimize these sources of pollution, we can create a clean, beautiful environment for our future.

For more information, please contact the Stormwater Manager at 229-259-3530 or send an email to the Stormwater Division.

It was the explosion of impervious cover in recent decades that caused the 700-year floods in 2009 and 2013 that submerged the old Withlacoochee Wastewater Plant (WWTP). Valdosta has since spent hundreds of millions of dollars building a whole new WWTP uphill out of the floodplain, plus a force main and man other wastewater system improvements.

Yet Valdosta’s stormwater still goes (and probably always will) into the same sewer system. So stormwater runoff is a big deal for preventing sewage spills. Such as Valdosta’s 300,000 gallon spill a month ago (no, we haven’t forgotten).

It’s good to see Valdosta’s Stormwater Division doing something to encourage the public to help out with what Valdosta is already doing. Thanks, Angela Bray!

The more the public understands the impervious surface problem, the more people will demand building codes require retention ponds and other measures to deal with the situation. Besides, why let all your rain run off when you can use it for your garden, washing your car, etc.?

Meanwhile, WWALS will be keeping a close eye out for any more sewage spills.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!