Stream Stewardship

People around the state are becoming increasingly concerned with the condition of streams in their area. The problems facing streams, including eroding banks, flooding, pollution, and loss of habitat and native species, are the result of increased development and other land use changes in our watersheds. These issues can seem complex, but there are many ways to improve stream conditions and become a stream steward.

Stream in backyard

Information for Homeowners

There are many practices you can use around your home to improve the water quality of your watershed. Conserving water, caring for a local stream, properly maintaining septic systems, and spreading awareness of water quality within your community are all ways you can practice good stream stewardship. 

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Stream Restoration

Stream Restoration and Native Plants

Stream restoration improves the biodiversity, shape, habitat and water quality of a stream. Planting native plants along your stream helps improve overall water quality and ecosystem health by supporting bank stabilization, slowing and filtering runoff, providing food and shelter to wildlife and pollinators, shading the stream, and restoring natural areas. 

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Green Infrastructure EPA
Caption
A bioswale placed between a sidewalk and road.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency

Green Infrastructure Projects

Green infrastructure is a form of stormwater management which uses ecological systems, natural and engineered, to reduce the volume of runoff and pollutant load entering pipe systems and waterways.

Rainfall that flows over the ground into a body of water is referred to as stormwater runoff. Impervious surfaces, such as pavement and rooftops, magnify the amount of runoff entering streams and rivers. While rainfall can help replenish streams, stormwater runoff carries excess sediment, nutrients, litter, and other pollutants that are harmful to aquatic environments. 

Traditionally, stormwater runoff has been managed by directing untreated runoff into underground pipes that lead to streams and rivers.  Green infrastructure mimics the natural hydrological cycle to capture, infiltrate, evaporate or harvest runoff for use. Green infrastructure projects include reducing impervious pavement cover, bioswales, rain gardens, rain barrels, restoring wetlands, as well as forest conservation and preservation.

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