Homeowners should be aware of measures to help reduce the quantity and protect the quality of stormwater leaving their property. Even a small amount of impervious area (i.e., rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, etc.) can have an impact, adding pollutants like oil, gasoline, or debris to the stormwater runoff. The runoff eventually makes its way into storm sewers, where flows directly into streams and rivers without being filtered or treated by a wastewater treatment plant.
Because the stormwater is unable to infiltrate into the ground, the runoff entering nearby surface waters arrives at a faster rate, increasing the burden on municipal and county storm sewer systems. Many communities now enforce a stormwater utility fee ordinance to help maintain, repair, and upgrade the stormwater infrastructure on public property.
Illicit discharges and illegal connections to municipal storm drains or county regulated drains can also have a negative impact on water quality. Per federal laws, local government entities are required to discover illicit discharges and take appropriate actions to have them resolved. If you are aware of illegal connection or illicit discharges into storm sewers or drains in your area, please notify us so the problem can be rectified.
Best Management Practices for Homeowners
Best management practices (BMPs) are the actions homeowners can do to reduce the quantity of stormwater runoff leaving their property. For more detailed information about the following BMPs— including potential cost-share opportunities here in Tippecanoe County—click on the BMP title or visit www.TippEcoNow.com.
Rain barrels capture stormwater runoff from rooftops via downspouts. The water in the barrel can then be used for water gardens, lawns, or can simply be drained once the ground is no longer saturated from rain.
The Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC) offers a rain barrel kit (barrel, stand, and downspout diverter) to residents within their target watershed for just $25. Contact WREC to find out if your address qualifies for a reduced-price rain barrel kit.
Rain gardens are shallow depressions in a property, intentionally designed to accept drainage. Rain gardens are planted with native flowers, shrubs, and even trees that are moisture-tolerant and help infiltrate the excess water.
Example rain gardens in Tippecanoe County include roadside rain gardens on Main Street in downtown Lafayette and in the parking lot of Purdue University’s CoRec Center.
Bioswales are vegetated drainage channels consisting of grasses, flowers, and shrubs that encourage stormwater runoff to infiltrate along its path to a drain or inlet.
An example of a large-scale bioswale is along Veteran’s Memorial Parkway on the south side of Lafayette. The bioswale runs from Ninth Street to State Road 52 along the south side of the Parkway.
Pervious pavement has intentional spacing or channeling between bricks or pavers for water to flow down through as it infiltrates into the ground. Pervious pavement can be used for driveways, patios, streets, or sidewalks where concrete or asphalt is used.
Backyard Swales and Ditches
Deferred maintenance or non-permitted home improvement projects within backyard swales are the cause of flooding and drainage issues in many urban and rural subdivisions. Common offenders are sheds, fences, or retaining walls that are built on top of backyard swales, impeding runoff from flowing through channels intended for drainage. Stacks of bricks or other blockages intentionally placed within the swale— along with outright filling in the swale—are also common culprits when complaints arise for standing water on residential lawns.
Residential Guide for Soils, Drainage, and Erosion Control (PDF, 12p, 848 KB)
A note about subdivisions: Homeowners within subdivisions are required to follow any and all covenants designed by the subdivision developer and Homeowners’ Association (HOA), including those pertaining to drainage easements. Fees collected by the HOA are often intended to be used to enforce these covenants and maintain or repair drainage infrastructure that may be causing flooding issues on private property. Responsibility for maintenance or repair of backyard swales, ditches, or drain tiles on private property is not the responsibility of municipal or county government; instead, jurisdiction for these easements falls to the HOA and individual property owners.
Proper Leaf Disposal
*Please note: Loose grass clippings CANNOT be placed in the street for collection or removal by city/county. Grass clippings must be placed into yard waste bags or recycled on your lawn.
Lafayette: From October-April, homeowners may place leaves in a pile by the curb to be collected. Leaves will be picked up on your regular trash day or the following day. Please keep leaf piles free of sticks and trash. Do not place leave in ditches, under vehicles or park vehicles too close to leaves. Do not place leaves in plastic bags. Find more information on Lafayette leaf collection and other yard waste guidelines and pickup schedule click here.
West Lafayette Residents: Rake leaves into a pile 12 inches away from the curb in a windrow. Please keep catch basins free of leaves. Have leaves raked out by Monday of your scheduled collection week. Please keep leaf piles free of sticks and trash. For a complete list of regulations and schedule click here.
Battle Ground: Place leaves in a pile near the curb. Leaves will be picked up on an as needed basis. Please keep leaf piles free of sticks and trash. Leaves and other lawn debris can be taken to the town compost center. Follow the link for more details.
Dayton: Place leaves in paper bag and set out with trash. Leaves with be picked up with the trash on the regularly scheduled trash day.
Tippecanoe County: Leaves and yard debris can be brought into the Tippecanoe County Solid Waste Management District located at 2770 N 9th Street Lafayette for compost. Compost fees are $19.50 a truck load and $2.00 a bag.
Blue is the New Green
In 2015, the TCPWQ and its partners developed “Blue is the New Green” campaign. This 10 minute video reviews the “Do's and Do Not’s” of basic stormwater pollution prevention practices that should be implemented by everyone in their home and in their yard.
Below are some ideas on how you, as a homeowner, can take steps in improving water quality.
Maintain your septic system
If you are planning on repairing a septic system, please seek help from the Tippecanoe County Board of Health. Resources, training, and information are available through the county Board of Health.
Pick up after your pet
A quick and simple method of decreasing pollutants in runoff is to clean up after your pet. This Pet Waste brochure summarizes health risks and pollution issues than can result from pet waste that is left uncollected.
Fix leaky vehicles
Promptly fix and vehicle leaks. Automobile fluids are easily washed into storm sewers and end up in our streams and rivers. One pint of motor oil can cause a slick the size of a football field, contaminating hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.
Fertilizing your lawn
Remember that when you fertilize your lawn, you are allowing some of the chemicals to flow in to the stormwater system. Avoid fertilizers containing phosphorus, and always clean any fertilizer spilled on driveways and sidewalks by sweeping it up and using it later.
Household hazardous waste diposal
Don't dump your paint in the sewer! Tippecanoe County has facilities where household waste can be properly disposed. Contact information for these facilities can be found on tippecanoewaste.org, as well as an A-Z guide of house hold waste and instruction of proper disposal.
Washing your vehicle
The soapy runoff from washing your vehicle in your driveway can pollute the stormwater system. Contents of the storm sewer system are not treated and flow directly to local streams and the Wabash River. One simple way to minimize pollution from do-it-yourself car washing is to wash your vehicle on your lawn and us a phosphorous-free soap. Washing your car on your lawn will allow the water to soak into the ground and filter out pollutants. Using phosphorous-free soap helps decrease the amount of nutrients entering our waterways.
The most eco-friendly option, of course, is to take your vehicle to a car wash! Excess soap and water from car washes are directed to a wastewater treatment plant, decreasing risks to natural surface waters.