ACCD initiates and partners on projects to improve water quality.
These projects restore watershed health, reduce flooding and improve the overall ecosystem. Many of these projects originate from watershed plans, a strategic approach to watershed wide improvements.
Riparian buffers are important for watershed health. They filter pollutants, hold soil intact and provide food shelter for wildlife. A riparian buffer is the area of land next to water that protects or “buffers” a river or stream with plants, like trees, shrubs, native grasses and perennials. Working cooperatively with state and local governments, nonprofits and private citizens, ACCD has planted thousands of native trees and shrubs to establish acres of new riparian buffers.
Sediment is the number one stream pollutant by volume. While erosion is a natural process, excess erosion can collapse streambanks and clog stream channels with sediment. Increased erosion can result in flooding, degraded habitat and impaired water quality. Human activities such as the clearing of natural vegetation by landowners, urbanization or development, the construction of impervious surfaces (roads, buildings, drainage ditches, etc.), and agricultural practices (grazing, plowing) can worsen and speed up erosion problems within a watershed. ACCD has worked on several stream restoration projects to re-establish natural flows, stabilize streambanks and provide habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates.
Stormwater is water that runs over land, streets, parking lots, sidewalks and driveways after a rain or snowmelt instead of soaking into the ground.
To make room for increased stormwater, streambanks are worn away, causing sediment to enter waterways. Stormwater does not go to a treatment plant, but instead goes directly to streams and rivers, often picking up trash, chemicals and other pollutants along the way. This process harms drinking water, fish and wildlife and recreational spaces.
ACCD has worked in several watersheds to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce stormwater runoff. ACCD and partners have designed and installed rain gardens, native meadows, permeable pavers and other green infrastructure techniques designed to capture, filter and infiltrate stormwater runoff before it reaches streams or storm sewer systems.