When development occurs, it changes the way water moves across the land. More roads, driveways and rooftops increase the amount of hard surfaces. More hard surfaces mean fewer areas for rain to soak into the ground, and more runoff.
This runoff, called stormwater runoff, causes flooding and water pollution problems in local lakes and rivers.
There are many ways to reduce runoff from a developed area. Rain gardens and permeable pavers help rain soak into the ground, stormwater ponds provide a place for runoff to be stored and filtered, and stormwater reuse systems collect and store runoff to be used for irrigation later.
Another way is to preserve or restore natural areas, thus increasing the amount of green space and providing more area for water to soak in. This is called upland preservation. It is one of many methods Carver County Water Management Organization promotes to protect lakes and rivers from stormwater runoff pollution during development.
What is upland preservation? Upland preservation occurs when a natural area such as a prairie or a forest is restored or permanently protected during development.
Having these natural areas dotted throughout neighborhoods can reduce the amount of stormwater runoff coming off the area, provide a place for extra water from development to soak into the ground, reduce flooding, provide wildlife and pollinator habitat, and provide recreation opportunities for nearby residents.
It’s about the roots: Upland preservation sites can absorb a significant amount of water. Mature trees and native prairie plants have very deep roots. Deep roots help water soak into the ground and the plants use and transpire the water back into the atmosphere.
Meeting rules: New developments are required to meet local water rules to manage stormwater runoff from the site. Features that slow down runoff, allow more water to soak in, and filter pollutants must be included in design and construction.
Carver County Water Management Organization encourages upland preservation to protect open space and increase an area’s ability to keep water on site.
To date the organization approved 29 upland preservation sites through the permitting process, for a total of about 300 acres. Three sites preserve existing forest and 26 restore native prairie.