Waterfront property owners adopt Lake Leelanau stormwater management best practices to protect the lake.

Lake Leelanau Stormwater Management Toolkit

Stormwater management is crucial for Lake Leelanau waterfront property owners to safeguard our lake's water quality. By adopting effective stormwater management practices, such as responsible collection and infiltration of runoff, property owners can prevent the transfer of pollutants to the lake, reduce flooding risks in neighboring areas, and protect our lake. We invite you to read the following guide, written by LLLA President and Shoreline Ambassador Nancy Popa, to learn more. And please feel free to share the Lake Leelanau stormwater management toolkit with your friends and neighbors.

Stormwater 101

During heavy rain in the woods, the leaves on trees act as natural brakes, slowing down the raindrops as they reach the ground. This beneficial delay allows the water to soak into the soil, replenishing the drinking water aquifer.

Moreover, the dense vegetation covering the forest floor plays a crucial role in reducing the speed of water flow during heavy rain, effectively minimizing soil erosion. Trees and vegetation serve as nature's way of preventing stormwater runoff, and this is a concept we should adopt on our properties. 

By replicating these natural conditions, we can ensure that rainwater stays on the property, infiltrates the ground, and avoids causing erosion issues.

Impervious Surfaces 

Hard surfaces like asphalt driveways, concrete patios, rooftops, and other areas that do not allow rain to infiltrate are called impervious surfaces. 

Impervious surfaces increase the volume and speed of stormwater runoff, which increases the frequency and intensity of local flooding and erosion. The eroding soils carry nutrients into the lake, which can result in excessive aquatic plant growth and algae blooms. 

Minimizing stormwater runoff on impervious surfaces is crucial to protecting Lake Leelanau's water quality and the surrounding watershed.

Lake Leelanau Stormwater Management Best Practices

Lake Leelanau waterfront property owners should adopt stormwater management best practices to protect the water quality of our lake. Responsible practices collect, convey, and infiltrate runoff without causing issues for neighboring properties and roads. Redirecting stormwater, like altering downspouts or re-grading the land, might lead to flooding problems in neighboring areas. Therefore, careful planning is crucial. 

Minimizing impervious surfaces and using absorbent alternatives, like gravel driveways and rain gardens, helps reduce pollution and reliance on collection areas. The following approaches can reduce the extent and impact of impervious surfaces on your property.

Minimize impervious surfaces 

Reduce the footprint of impervious surfaces on your property and select alternative surfaces whenever possible. For example, select a deck with spacing between the boards rather than a waterproof patio that allows more water to soak into the ground.

Use pervious/permeable materials 

Rather than pavement or concrete, choose materials that can help capture and facilitate infiltration, such as gravel, pea stone, crushed shells, and mulch. To maintain these surfaces, you may need to add new material or re-level the area periodically. Paving stones or grass pavers are another option. To learn more about permeable pavement, click here.

Avoid products that cause compaction 

Certain products, such as dense-grade aggregate or stone dust, prevent water from infiltration. While these materials may seem more pervious than surfaces like concrete, they are designed to eliminate voids when compacted. And this causes the treated area to become impervious with use.

Allow for infiltration between stones and bricks 

For patios, walls, and steps, avoid using grout, mortar, and cement sealers and instead set them on sand and gravel base to allow water to pass through the openings.

Reduce lawn areas 

Although lawn is more porous than paved surfaces, turf grass has shallow roots, and the underlying area tends to become compacted—this significantly reduces infiltration. Trees, shrubs, and perennials have deeper roots that absorb the water and create pathways for stormwater to seep into the ground.

Do not direct stormwater to hard surfaces 

Direct foundation drains and gutters to a vegetated surface, such as a rain garden, where it can infiltrate.

Minimize roof runoff and reuse water  

Drainage from rooftops can be directed to vegetated areas, or rain barrels can be installed under downspouts to collect water for reuse.

If you want more information, please read this comprehensive guide to controlling runoff and erosion from your waterfront property.

Lake Leelanau waterfront property rain garden.
An impervious surface adjacent to pervious stone and vegetation to filter stormwater. Photo credit Mark Bugnaski Photography.

Lake Leelanau Shoreline Consultations

Please get in touch with us if you have questions about Lake Leelanau stormwater management—we are here to help! Remember, LLLA offers free shoreline consultations to help you follow best management practices to protect your shoreline and Lake Leelanau. Let us help you with your project before you apply for any permits. To schedule a consultation, please contact Nancy Popa at [email protected].


Featured image courtesy of Mark Bugnaski Photography.

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