The city of Ankeny has a public education and outreach program to let our citizens know about the impacts of stormwater discharges and the measures we all can take to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff. During rain events or snow melt, excess fertilizer, lawn clippings, trash, eroded soil, oil deposits, or other pollutants find their way into the storm sewer and into local streams and ponds. The City is working to protect our waterways and promote stewardship towards our land, water, and downstream neighbors.
Helpful Homeowner Habits
Many of our daily activities can impact the quality of our water bodies. There are many easy ways to prevent stormwater pollution. These are little things that can be done to protect the waterways, save money, and comply with City ordinances, which prohibit the leaving of debris (grass clippings, leaves, soil, or animal waste) in the street. Just remember if it is on the street, it can get to a storm drain which leads directly to Ankeny’s water bodies. Help keep Ankeny’s waterways clean!
This year’s ample rainfall has resulted in green, fast growing lawns. As a result, the City of Ankeny would like to remind residents to refrain from blowing grass clippings into the street and nearby storm drains. The City’s storm drains connect directly to streams and ponds in the local community and are meant to help minimize local flooding. The storm drains should not be blocked by litter or other forms of debris, such as yard or grass clippings.
The following tips can help minimize the amount of grass clippings in the street:
- Mow in a direction so that the clippings blow back into your yard, not in the street.
- Use a mulching mower so that grass clippings remain on the lawn, which also reduces annual fertilizer costs.
- Collect and place grass clippings in a recycling bag for pick up.
- Use a compost pile/bin for your grass clippings.
As leaves begin to fall, make sure to rake them up and properly dispose of them. A heavy blanket of leaves can smother your grass and clog the storm drains on the street. This can lead to localized street flooding. If you notice your area storm drain covered, clean it off! Street sweepers help clear storm drains, but can’t get to all of the drains when leaves are falling quickly.
Decaying leaves, grass clippings, and fertilizer contain nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which quickly “super fertilize” the water. This can lead to excessive algae blooms, which not only cause an unattractive appearance in ponds and streams but also may adversely affect fish and plant populations in ponds and streams.
Litter and Pet Waste
Keep litter, yard waste, and and debris out of street gutters and storm drains. Pick up pet waste. Just remember that anything that gets on our streets usually ends up down the drain during the next rainfall.
Lawn Fertilizer and Chemicals
Apply lawn and any other garden chemicals sparingly and according to the directions. Make sure your fertilizers are phosphorous free. Our soils have plenty of naturally occurring phosphorous. Phosphorous is usually only needed when trying to establish a new yard. Excess amounts contribute to algal blooms and oxygen deficiency in our water bodies.
Don't dump anything in a storm drain! Household hazardous wastes can be disposed of at the Regional Collection Center in Bondurant. Other nonhazardous items can be disposed of through your garbage provider.
Bare spots in your yard can lose soil, adding sediment to our water bodies. Control erosion by planting ground cover and stabilizing erosion-prone areas.
Make sure that your septic system is properly maintained and is functioning properly. Have your septic system inspected and pumped every three to five years.
Detergents and Cleaners
Look for eco-friendly detergents and cleaners that are low in or have no phosphorous. This helps reduce the amount of nutrients discharged into our streams and ponds.
Divert gutters of impervious surfaces, including driveways and sidewalks, and into vegetated areas to allow water a chance to infiltrate into the soil. Make sure that you don't overwater your turf grass and make sure you are watering your yard, not your sidewalk or driveway.
The Next Step
The goal is to keep the rain where it falls. Want to learn more ways to improve stormwater through actions you can complete at home? Here are a few:
Add deep-rooted native vegetation that adds water capacity to the soil and beauty to your yard. Native plants are adapted to our Iowa weather and require little watering once established.
Soil Quality Restoration
Improve your soil quality by aerating and adding compost to your turf grass or garden areas. This helps to increase the organic matter content which allows deeper root growth for better soils. Better soils allow more water to infiltrate into the ground and not run off your yard.
Collect water during rain events for use on your yard, garden, and potted plants. Equipped with screens to keep pests out, rain barrels keep roof water out of our storm sewer system.
A beautiful and functional garden that pools/holds water for a brief time, 12 to 24 hours, and then slowly allows that water to infiltrate into the soil.
Used instead of traditional pavement, these materials are porous, allowing water to pass through and be stored below the surface.
Below are websites with more information about stormwater practices around your home.
- Surf Your Watershed
- Rainscaping Iowa
- Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership
- Water Efficient Landscaping