Sustainability and the success of climate action in the Charleston region depend on whether a critical mass of citizens and businesses understand and actively engage in addressing the challenge at a community-wide scale. Everyone has a role to play.
YOU CAN HELP by taking a proactive approach to be sustainable around your home, business and neighborhood! Some ideas to consider are highlighted below.
Be aware of the energy you consume and seek opportunities to lower the pollution of CO2 emissions and enhance health and livability, some ideas include:
Contrary to popular belief, plastic degrades as it is recycled and can not be recycled endlessly like aluminum or glass can be. That means a single-use plastic water bottle, if recycled, is often turned into some other product, such as a rug or pillow, that will exist forever. Look for ways to reduce single-use plastics in your life and help others see the benefits of doing this also. Some ideas include:
Trees provide incredible and cost effective flood-mitigating benefits including absorbing, deflecting and purifying stormwater.
Trees also offer many other benefits such as providing shade to manage extreme heat and lower utility bills.
Rain barrels and rain gardens catch rainwater which would otherwise flow into drainage infrastructure and over dirty streets. These approaches work in concert with nature to collect and filter runoff, mitigate flooding, and minimize pollution while helping to save money and energy too.
When rainwater can collected and harnessed on site at the source (where it falls), the community gains lots of benefits such as reduced runoff, increased water quality, and the overall less quantity of water overburdening any undersized drainage infrastructure.
A rain garden is a landscaped depression full of water-loving plants that absorbs excess rainwater. Rain gardens pair well with rainwater cisterns, also called rain barrels. Rain barrels are typically installed to store rainwater from a rooftop surface, reducing the amount of rainwater that may otherwise directly enter stormwater drainage inlets. Rain gardens can be designed so rain barrel overflow (once it's full) is directed to the rain garden. Rain captured in the cistern can be reused, such as irrigating plants during a dry spell.
Look for opportunities to use pervious materials where practical and maintain them. Capturing even small amounts of rain water and slowing the speed of runoff helps prevent drainage systems from becoming overwhelmed during heavy downpours.
Permeable pavements aim to infiltrate, treat, and store rain where it falls. Permeable pavements include a variety of product types, such as:
The sizes of voids where water passes through varies based on the product, some are large and can be filled with small stones or even soil and grass, while some are much too small to fill and instead require maintenance to prevent sediments from settling and clogging the system.
Pervious paving is a best management practice that could be particularly cost effective where flooding is a problem. While areas with high water tables are not as effective as those with lower water tables, it is still feasible as we are learning the Dutch have had success implementing pervious paving even in locations with high water tables.
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