Home/Land Owners Resource Center
River Hero Homes Program
River Hero Homes is a way to recognize homeowners who are successfully taking steps to improve water quality by reducing the amount of stormwater and pollution leaving their property. Becoming a River Hero Home is a simple way to help protect the James River. Depending on where you live, becoming a certified River Hero Home may also help you qualify for stormwater rebates or credits offered by your locality. For more infomation visit www.jamesriverhero.org
Virginia receives an average of 45.22 inches of rain every year. For an average size home of 1,260 square feet, that amounts to approximately 35,500 gallons of rainwater runoff each year. Rain that runs off your roof may flow directly into an underground sewer pipe or down your driveway to the street where it picks up pollutants and flows to a storm drain, ending up in the nearest stream. Why not put it to better use? You can disconnect your downspouts to redirect water to your yard or garden. Preventing rainwater from flowing over hard surfaces on your property also reduces demand on the sewer system and protects the quality of rivers, streams, and groundwater. To learn more about how to disconnect your downspouts, download our easy to follow instructional manual.
Downspout Disconnect (PDF, 1.89MB)
Another example for homeowner do-it-yourself is building a rain garden. Rain gardens are landscaped areas planted with native plants, shrubs, and trees that that soak up rain water, often from the roof of a house or from higher ground. The rain garden fills with a few inches of water after a storm and the water slowly filters into the ground rather than running off to a storm drain. Compared to a conventional patch of lawn, a rain garden allows about 30% more water to soak into the ground.
Why are rain gardens important? As cities and suburbs grow and replace forests and agricultural land, increased stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces becomes a problem. Rainwater runoff from developed areas increases flooding; carries pollutants from streets, parking lots and even lawns into local streams and reservoirs. This leads to reduced habitat for plants and animals and costly municipal improvements in stormwater treatment structures for humans.
Rain Garden (PDF, 1.17MB)
To learn more about constructing your own rain garden, visit the Virginia Department of Foresty’s Rain Garden Guide: http://www.dof.virginia.gov/mgt/resources/pub-Rain-Garden-Tech-Guide_2008-05.pdf.
For example, rain barrels are simple rain water collectors that capture and store a portion of the runoff from your roof. Holding back water from streams and creeks reduces the flow of rain water that can strip soil from stream banks as well as carry pollutants like excess fertilizer or pet waste directly to streams. Instead, you have a “stash” of free water to water your grass, garden, birdbath, etc. View JRA’s “How to Build a Rain Barrel” for easy to follow instructions on constructing your own barrel.
Rain Barrels (PDF, 2.87MB)
This video features an underground rain water harvesting cistern system that was installed at a poultry farm in the Farmville area. This is a pilot project that was privately funded.
If you don’t want your stormwater treatment system to be visible or if there is a substantial amount of overflow from your existing rain garden or rain barrels, you may want to consider adding a soakage trench to your landscape.
Soakage Trench (PDF, 609 KB)
Native or indigenous plants naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. They are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems. Whether you’re building a rain garden or looking for some shade trees, our native plant guide will point you in the right direction.
Native Plants (PDF, 2.18 MB)
Maintenance of your Stormwater Management System
Annual maintenance will be necessary in order to keep your stormwater management system functioning properly. Understanding the specific maintenance needs of your systems and how they work will help you to better plan for maintenance needs. Our homeowner maintenance guide will tell you how to identify and correct common problems. It will also help you set up a preventative maintenance and inspection plan to help you keep your stormwater management systems in working order.
Homeowner Maintenance (PDF 3.22MB)