How To Manage Water Runoff in a Sustainable Way

How To Manage Water Runoff in a Sustainable Way

Knowing what to do to protect our water first takes identifying the reasons water gets contaminated. Once established, we can find out what we can do to prevent it from becoming polluted and educate ourselves further. Following best practices on how to manage water runoff in a sustainable way is not only better for the area in which you live, but also better for the Earth.

What Is Runoff

Stormwater runoff may also be referred to as an “overland flow” and is the collection of excess water. Precisely, the precipitation that does not get absorbed into the soil, transpired through plant life, or evaporated into the atmosphere to continue the water cycle.

This water basically combs over the surface layer of the ground, picking up pollutants and debris. It is then carried to a collected area such as a natural body of water or city collection through a sewer system. When stormwater runs through highly populated areas, it is more likely to be polluted by man’s improper disposal of chemicals and materials.  

“First Flush” Phenomena

The initial flooding of stormwater or the first batch tends to carry most pollutants. This is referred to as the “first flush” phenomena. This is usually the first half-inch of stormwater, and it is a priority to capture and manage it to protect water quality. ABT Drains offers two advantageous drain filtration systems to combat the high concentration of pollutants’ adverse effects in the initial surface runoff, or “first flush.”

Clean Water Act

This federal act is responsible for managing the water pollutant risks associated with excessive watershed. The Clean Water Act regulates pollutants and discharges in natural waterways through state environmental protection agencies. There are federal guidelines for the treatment and maximum concentration standards for water bodies.

Low-Impact Development (LID)

Low-impact development is a term used in the United States and Canada. It describes the planning and engineering of design methods to manage runoff as part of an eco-friendly infrastructure. LID stresses the importance of conservation and on-site intervention to protect and uphold water quality.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA is responsible for the protection of human health and the environment. They provide support and assistance in building recovery plans for public health systems and infrastructures like wastewater treatment plants. The EPA is responsible for implementing programs to control water pollution and establish standards for those in the pollution control industry.

Green Roofs

Green roofs are roofing on buildings and homes that are either partially or entirely covered in live vegetation. This is placed on a waterproof sheath and may be accompanied by a root barrier. The vegetation helps to soak up stormwater through transpiration and is sometimes paired with drainage or irrigation systems. It’s a great way to absorb water before it creates significant runoff.

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels collect runoff water from a roof and contain it to be used to water lawns, gardens, and household plants. These barrels reduce the runoff flowing from your property and help conserve water you can use later at no extra cost to you.

One thing to be aware of with rain barrels is there are national and state regulations on how much rainwater you can collect. Some states have a greater need for water and don’t want much interference with the natural flow of it, as it could result in dryer regions with higher water demands. It’s best to consult the Natural Conference of State Legislatures for a guide on state-to-state rules regarding rain barrel water collection.  

Curb and Gutter Drainage

Eliminating water through curbs and gutters is pretty standard practice when it comes to controlling stormwater runoff. In this process, there is no filtration of pollutants, however. Curbs can be hindering when attempting to direct runoff into pervious areas and filter water through low-impact developments. When possible, it is recommended that curbs be eliminated, or that curb cuts are added in to allow runoff to travel appropriately. Swales are a great replacement option for curbs and gutters to transport runoff.


Drainage paths or channels that are used to transport water are called swales. There are two main types, vegetated and dry. These pathways can be used in areas with low runoff instead of underground sewers or open concrete channels. Vegetated swales help slow runoff as the vegetation absorbs water as it passes through, similar to green roofs but on the ground. They also help filter out pollutants that pass through the system before being collected.

Permeable Pavement

Permeable pavements allow for runoff stormwater to seep through porous surfaces and into dirt and groundwater. Unlike traditional asphalt or concrete, permeable pavement is designed to keep water moving rather than standing on impervious surfaces. The installation of these materials in parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks allows stormwater to continue pushing through the pavement to its collection place.

Water unable to get through impenetrable elements quickly becomes contaminated based on the pollutants it encounters and the time it sits stagnant. Eventually, it will evaporate into the air but would better serve as soil hydration immediately after precipitation falls. Asphalt is littered with oils, toxins, bacteria, and other harmful agents that make water unusable to us.  

Interception and Filtration

Depending on your need, ABT Drains offers various sustainable drainage products to help intercept clogs and keep downstream waterways clear of pollutants. There are “first flush” defense products, oil and water separating pre-treatment tanks, and permavoid innovative drainage systems. These systems are multi-functional for managing stormwater and were engineered to create appealing site drainage that is functional.

Furthermore, it’s important that stormwater is treated as a resource instead of a waste product. By cultivating water’s natural movement in the local ecosystem, high-strength polypropylene drainage products reduce the need for more invasive conveyance structures to be implemented.

When it comes to how to manage water runoff in a sustainable way, knowing about runoff and its importance will help. Before addressing any issue or occurrence, you must understand the specifics. For your questions about drainage systems and the best ways to conserve and preserve the water around you, look to the experts at ABT Drains. Certified drainage professionals can help you make a plan for the most sensible draining solutions.

How To Manage Water Runoff in a Sustainable Way