Best Management Practices for Water Quality

WATER – slow it down, spread it out, soak it in!


Rain Gardens
An excellent example of adding beauty with a purpose. These gardens are planted in small depressions designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff that flows from parking lots.

Assessing maximum use of parking lots and converting the extra into grassy areas into artificial swales is a way to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration.

Green Roofs
A green roof provides a rainwater buffer, purifies the air, reduces the ambient temperature, regulates the indoor temperature, saves energy and encourages biodiversity in the city.

Water Runoff Retention Areas
Planting water runoff retention areas lined with native shrubs, perennials, and flowers improves business curb appeal. Employees can be involved in designing and planting the garden space.

Bioretention Basins
These “stormwater treatment centers” are effective at removing sediment, trace heavy metals, nutrients, possible bacteria, and organics found in stormwater. The example shows basins as tree-lined parking lot islands.

Green Walls
Exterior green walls reduce the solar reflectance of a structure, thus reducing the urban heat island effect. Soil and plants are a natural filter that can clean the water that flows through the wall, and slow down water from roofs.


Photos courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Cover Crops
Plants established for seasonal cover such as grasses or legumes can protect soil from erosion and increase rain infiltration. This reduces sediment and nutrient runoff into nearby water bodies. Retained organic matter and nutrients are available to crops increasing yields.

Farming without tilling leaves crop and plant residue in place so organic matter and nutrients are retained. Less soil disturbance protects from erosion and sediment runoff. Crops use water more efficiently as rain and irrigation water is captured and evaporation is reduced.

Drainage Water Management
Water-control structures are used to manage the timing and the amount of water discharged from agricultural drainage systems. DWM improves water quality and crop production by reducing excess nutrient discharge and making water available to plant roots

Wetland Reserve Easement
Restoring wetlands to conditions prior to conversion to farmland provides tremendous benefits. They help recharge groundwater, reduce flooding to surrounding areas by acting as a sponge, filter water before it reaches creeks and rivers, and provide wildlife and pollinator habitat.

Streambank and Shoreline Protection
Controlling streambank and shoreline erosion by restoring and protecting banks will decrease sediment in lakes and other bodies of water. This measure can also significantly reduce phosphorus transport from adjacent agricultural fields.

Filter Strips
Areas of vegetation are planted in strips between cropland, grazing land, forests and environmentally-sensitive areas such as streams and rivers. Filter strips reduce and slow runoff of sediment and nutrients from soil, and increase infiltration and groundwater recharge.

This project has been funded wholly or in part through Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.