Reduce runoff. Install roof gutters and rain barrels.


Stormwater runoff is a major cause of beach and water pollution (see the annual rating of water quality at 200 popular beaches in the NRDC report Testing the Waters). It is also something we can help prevent through simple changes at home.

If your house doesn’t have roof gutters, rainwater streaming off the roof will only compound runoff from your driveway, patio and other surfaces. Adding rain barrels at the downspouts of your gutters eliminates rooftop runoff and provides a supply of non-potable water for irrigation. Barrels made from recycled food-grade containers are widely sold and help reduce waste and plastic production. Barrels are available at Clean Air Gardening and Aaron’s Rain Barrels, among others.

Look for other ways to reduce stormwater runoff in Got a Minute? A Morning? A Month?

Also, check out this NRDC slide show with examples of communities across America cleaning up their water—and saving money—with low-impact development.

For more, see what these Smarter Cities are doing to protect water quality: Burnsville, MinnesotaNorwalk, Connecticut; Kansas, City, MissouriSanta Monica, California; and Denver, Colorado.