Building to Prevent Flooding

Weather

When it rains a lot, you might not realize the impact mother nature is having on your community. Just because you don’t see the flooding at home, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Flooding is a major problem in our region. It causes significant damage and has more deaths per year than any other type of severe weather. 

Deborah Hoag, who is the Director of Public Work for State College gives us a brief history of stormwater and drainage, “If you look at the history of stormwater you just started. It just flowed. Then you just started with open channel flow and ditches. Then it was, wow there is a safety concern. Let’s put it in a pipe so a kid doesn’t fall in. And then you got to the thing of, the faster we get it out. Make bigger pipes. Make bigger pipes. Well now we have problems with stream banks eroding.” 

 Slow it down and back in the ground. That’s how experts have always tackled flooding problems. This has allowed for retention ponds and rain gardens to grow in popularity and each one serves a different purpose. 

Nate Kissell, the Director of Public Works for Altoona, breaks the difference between the two, “A retention ponds main focus is to control the amount of rainwater and discharge it at a slower rate that helps minimize erosion. A rain garden will store water, but as that water dissipates the pollution that is inherent in that water gets eaten by the plants that are planted inside the rain garden.”  

Projects that municipalities put in are large and require permits, but, what can you do at home to prevent flooding? 

There are a few small things. You can put your downspout directly on to the grass. Small rain gardens can be built. Rain barrels can be connected to the downspout and can store water that you can use to water plants. So, there are many ways to reduce flooding starting right in your own yard. Since stormwater is something that will always be around. 

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