St. Louis’ Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices

Dealing with government agencies is never easy. Bureaucracy has way of multiplying tasks and paperwork.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created Best Management Practices (BMPs) to promote offensive and defensive measures for stormwater control. Complying with these BMPs and administering the related forms presents a problem for businesses, property owners, contractors, and developers. But, at Bluegrass Landscape & Maintenance, we not only support the BMPs, but we also relieve clients from the filing and administrative follow-up.

What’s it all about?

Recognizing the problem presented by stormwater runoff, the EPA created a menu of BMPs in 2000. Concerned that development and growth had increased the amount of non-pervious surfaces like highways and parking lots, the EPA saw the increased risk in water carrying waste and toxins as it runs off surfaces.

The runoff directly and indirectly pollutes water tables, aquifers, streams, lakes, and rivers. And, simple diversion is not the solution.

But, the EPA accepted that, because water seeks its own level, local needs varied by geography, topography, and climate. So, they could not phrase universal mandates. Instead, they proposed best practices, educated the affected, and set compliance standards.

As the EPA says, “Effective stormwater management often occurs by using a holistic system management approach.” They recommend a holistic approach that considers the cost, effectiveness, and results of “rather than looking at each practice in isolation.”


What’s good for Missouri?

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, like local agencies throughout the country, has also clarified stormwater BMPs for local practice. They promote innovative technologies and methods for retention and treatment of stormwater.

They identify holistic approaches with denitrification, evapotranspiration, filtration, infiltration, microbial activity, and nutrient reduction to reach and exceed water quality controls.

  • The MSD published a Landscaping Guide for Stormwater Design urging the use of native plants survivorship and easy maintenance. Specifically, “The deep root systems help develop pore space in the soil to promote infiltration of rainfall, reducing stormwater runoff during rain events.”

Native plants save on irrigation costs and require less mowing and care. And, they even offer home and food for butterflies and birds.

  • Consider what you have to start with. The health of existing vegetation should give you clues to what works best on the site.

Selecting new plants with a color palette in mind, you must also consider height, texture, and seasonal color. Herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees root deep to provide stability and diversity. Adding plants that are sustainable and native reduces maintenance and assures continuing performance.

  • Avoid using turf. Tight turf acts like impervious surfaces. Its roots are shallow and requires regular fertilization and mowing.

Grasses do little to intercept and slow rainfall or stormwater runoff.

  • Soil preparation requires soil testing. Results tell you the pH quality, the presence of natural soil nutrients, and the percentage of minerals. You then know what to add and mix.

If your work removes top soil, you want to restore it because of its organic values. Amended top soil should establish new plantings quickly. The deeper your top-soil, the deeper the roots can establish. Compacted soils, on the other hand, stop the needed plant penetration.

  • Early planting requires enough water to establish the transplant. And, when planting do not treat mulch as if it were soil. You can mulch lightly after planting or plant container-grown plants into the soil below the mulch.

Because you want the plants to establish themselves, you should time the planting and create protective barriers to runoff.

  • Bioretention is a best way to go. Bioretention filters are recessed areas designed with underdrains and loamy soil. Designed as architectural or landscaping features, plants are placed strategically for their drainage value and appearance.

These zones fill with stormwater during rains and in dry out between storms. So, you want plants that tolerate either extreme. The sloping and drain off from the bioretention areas have MBPs all their own.

What are you going to need?

You’re going to need help. This not a do-it-yourself project. You need the sustaining support of professionals like Bluegrass Landscaping & Maintenance. After all, “While bioretention areas are low maintenance by design, they are not no maintenance.”

The Best Management Practices are not just suggestions, you see. You will be cited for not complying with or maintaining the BMPs. So, we offer a certified stormwater Best Management Practices team to inspect, maintain, and report on the process to MSD as required. You can run a greener business on our shoulders.