Stormwater Facts

Blue Community Makeover for Water Quality logo

How can you help to protect and improve water quality?

Managing Water on Your Property

Even if you don’t live on or near a lake, wetland, or creek (and especially if you do), there are many ways that you can protect and improve water quality without leaving home!

In most urban and suburban areas, your street connects to downstream lakes, wetlands, and streams through the storm sewer system. Water runs off your street and your yard rapidly through storm sewers carrying pollutants collected along the way, directly into our lakes and rivers. So think about it: Because our streets connect directly to the water, we all live on the waterfront!

In older neighborhoods (pre mid-1980s), the storm drain leads directly from the street to the downstream water body without any kind of cleaning or other treatment. In newer neighborhoods, stormwater typically goes into a treatment pond, which is generally designed to remove about half the pollution that enters.


In the News:

Neighbors Get Help to Clean Up Diamond Lake — May 14, 2010
Metro section
features the Diamond Lake Go Blue! makeover in an article by Laurie Blake.

Stormwater Ponds Become Chemical Soup — April 27, 2010
StarTribune article about polluted stormwater runoff, its consequences, and how it can be avoided “upstream.”

Minnesota Public Radio Program — April 15, 2010
Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning reporter and the producer of the acclaimed PBS Frontline documentary “Poisoned Waters” joined MIDDAY and spoke about water pollution issues generated by stormwater runoff and what can be done. You can listen at

Local Resources

Guide to Lake Protection — Great publication From the Freshwater Society & the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PDF)
Stormwater Calculator
— Learn how much stormwater your property produces. From the National Resources Defense Council.
Success Stories
— The National Resources Defense Council success stories complete with descriptions
Classroom Resources for Water Quality Education
— Compiled by the City of Minneapolis
10 Ways to Keep Lakes Clean
— From the Freshwater Society
Healthy Shoreland Fact Sheet: Stormwater Runoff
— from Minnesota Waters
Guiding Principles for Responsible Lawn Care
Urban Gardener’s Guide
— from Metro Blooms
Friends of Diamond Lake
— Local lake ecology resources and organization information
KARE 11  – Water is Life
— a wealth of water-related resources & links
Planting for Water Quality — from Blue Thumb

By Region:


Publications from Minnesota Waters — Multiple publications and fact sheets covering a broad range of healthy water topics
Minneapolis Storm and Surface Water Management
— Includes links to many additional resources
Minnesota Water Connection
Iowa Stormwater Education Program

Huron River Watershed CouncilSoutheast MI Council of Governments

City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program
California Water Resources Control Board
Alabama A&M/Auburn Joint Ext. Prog.

Florida Yards
— Interactive site with lawn suggestions. Plant database allows users find vegetation for your location, soil, climate, and aesthetic. Interactive Yard feature allows anyone to be the landscape designer for their own yard. (Email us if you know of something like this for Minnesota or the Midwest!)
State of Kentucky
Bluegrass Pride
City of Oxford North Carolina
North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Clemson University/Carolina Clear
Waccamaw Stormwater Educations Consortium — Tips and fact sheets (PDFs) for what you can do about stormwater runoff


Philadelphia Water Department Guide

New England

Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions — Tips and fact sheets for what you can do about stormwater runoff


National Center for Watershed Protection
— Very well organized by area (e.g. kitchen, bathroom, landscaping, watering) and contains suggestions for both inside and outside of the house. The suggestions are geared towards water conservation and not stormwater per se, but many are applicable.
National Resources Defense Council

From the Environmental Protection Agency:

Stormwater Best Management Practices
NPS Publications
After the Storm:  The Effects of Stormwater Runoff
Publications and Reference Documents — Printable brochures, stickers, etc., with practical tips for reducing stormwater pollution.  Some available in both English and Spanish.
What You Can Do — preventing stormwater runoff pollution
Managing Urban Runoff — Facts and resources

More Examples of What You Can Do (from the Chesapeake Bay Alliance—equally appropriate for Minnesota)

Information and links on this page were provided by Minnesota Waters and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.  Their websites offer additional information and resources for protecting and preserving Minnesota water resources.  Thank you, partners!

Logo for Minnesota Waters organization

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District logo