Trees and Stormwater Management

Trees & Stormwater Management

Flooding and excess water runoff continues to be an ongoing challenge world-wide, and the topic is even more troublesome within urban areas. When we experience flooding from large weather events, any amount of precipitation, or changing water levels no matter what the cause, the water needs a place to go. When we do not have enough trees and vegetation, there is nothing to absorb excess water. Instead, it can move across great distances and pick up all kinds of pollutants along the way, eventually landing in our rivers and other important waterways. Planting trees and creating healthy urban forests is one way to manage runoff, reduce erosion, and prevent flooding.

Urbanization in Virginia has increased the volume of surface water runoff, due to more impervious surfaces covering our state. Sediment and pollutants flow with the runoff into our streams, rivers, and eventually larger water bodies such as the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Municipalities and counties are required to develop local management plans, or VSMP (Virginia Stormwater Management Program) that are regulated by Department of Environmental Quality.

Because trees can play a vital role in stormwater management, they are considered a best management practice or BMP for municipalities to use to meet local water quality requirements. Whether planting one tree in your front yard or installing a riparian buffer strip along a stream bank, every tree plays a part in stormwater management.

Heat Islands
Young trees planted to create a forest buffer that will protect and filter water entering the surrounding waterways.
A river well-forested on both sides. This is called a healthy “riparian buffer.”