By Richard Czaplinski
I was quite pleased with the good turnout at the Ridge to River Public Forum called “Climate of Change” last Wednesday at the Lareau Farm. About 140 people attended to hear Roger Hill, meteorologist from the radio program Weathering Heights, and to learn about the work of the five-town taskforce over the last two years. There were six information stations where folks could learn some of the ways we can face coming climate changes with a greater sense of purpose and resilience.
At the station called “Private Drives,” I used a model to demonstrate how such simple structures as “ditch control points” or “check dams” and water bars can slow stormwater down, divert it off the road surface and collect sediment. These measures protect your driveway and save time and money on maintenance. The result is fewer nutrients, sediment and E. coli flowing into the Mad River making it cleaner and safer for swimming.
I was also pleased that a dozen folks signed up for an assessment of their private drives to determine ways to slow erosion down and protect driveways from damage during heavy rains. These assessments will be performed by the Storm Smart Program which evolved out of the Ridge to River effort. However, not all those assessments may be performed before the snow flies this year, so I wanted to give folks a short checklist of things they can do on their own to get ready for fall and spring rainstorms and winter snowmelt:
- Divert and spread out upland stormwater from entering the driveway.
- Crown the driveway so water flows off rather than down the drive.
- Install water bars so water easily flows off the drive into ditches or swales.
- Install check dams in steep ditches to slow water down and collect sediment.
- Look for areas of erosion and protect those sites with rock energy dissipaters.
- Clean out culverts and debris at entry points to keep them from plugging.
A good technique to find out what needs to be done on your driveway is to go out during a rainfall (though not when there is thunder and lightning). See where water is flowing and where it might be eroding the drive, ditches and soil. See how clean the stormwater looks as it enters the nearest stream or brook.
Thanks for all your efforts to keep the Mad River clean.
Richard Czaplinski lives in Warren and is on the board of Friends of the Mad River.