Thankfully we have an abundant water supply in Cleveland. But as precious as water is, too much water is not a good thing, especially at this time of year when the ground is saturated, and the water must go somewhere where it is usually not wanted.
Once Spring breezes in, the SWCD office phones will be ringing with calls from landowners who are dismayed by the damage to their property caused by stormwater runoff and by flooding.
Sure, there are fixes, but unfortunately the costs are steep. There is a dire need to consider the big picture prior to development and redevelopment. More importantly, there is a need to implement best practices for stormwater management before, during and after construction, such as:
- Preventing erosion
- Protecting riparian areas with natural buffers
- Reducing impervious pavement
- Properly installing and maintaining post construction stormwater control measures
- Planting trees
- And of course, protecting and preserving wetlands.
About wetlands. Some may say it is too late to preserve wetlands. About 50% of wetlands have been eliminated in the United States and the Ohio EPA notes that 90% of Ohio’s wetland resources have been destroyed or degraded through draining, filling or other modifications. This is a huge problem for wildlife habitat and the ensuing changes in the ability to capture and store water creates problems on the landscape.
Just a few years ago, the Obama Administration created the Waters of the U.S (WOTUS) rule. It was a joint regulation issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that sought to clarify which wetlands and streams were subject to federal regulatory jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the rule is currently being debated, with opponents to the rule contending that it is an example of government overreach. Certainly, there are two sides to the debate. However, the immediate and long-term costs associated with habitat loss, erosion, destruction of property and loss of business are usually born by “we the people.”
Cuyahoga SWCD advocates for the protection of wetlands and floodplains. We work to promote riparian buffers, we strongly encourage the correct installation and maintenance of post construction stormwater control measures, we enforce the protection of conservation easements, and we work to restore habitat because we are passionate about the environment that we live in.
As we get closer to Spring, consider these simple truths:
- We live on a small (and getting smaller) planet
- Everything is connected
- Prevention is better and less expensive than the cure
- And do unto others….
Please consider how much our precious waters benefit us each and every day. Water is something we cannot live without. So, whether you are a businessperson, community leader, farmer or average citizen, we all need to be part of the solution.
Blog author: Janine Rybka, Director