The 2018 Downspout Disconnection Pilot Program has wrapped up; many thanks to those that participated!
- What’s the Problem, and Why Does It Matter?
- What’s the Solution?
- How Can You Help?
- Downspout Disconnection in Action!
- Helpful Resources for Installing Your Downspout Disconnection Kit
- Interested in Learning More?
What’s the Problem, and Why Does It Matter?
42% of Hartford’s land area is comprised of impervious surfaces, and much of the remaining area is covered with clay-heavy soils with low infiltration rates. Impervious surfaces prevent rain from being absorbed into the soil underneath, resulting in excess stormwater runoff and causing added burden and stress on the city’s aging infrastructure. Hartford has a 150 year-old combined sewer system, which means that rainwater combined with wastewater can exceed the system’s capacity during storm events, resulting in discharges of untreated wastewater through combined sewer overflows (CSO).
More than 1/2 billion gallons of untreated wastewater overflow to local streams and waterways annually. These discharges impact the Connecticut River’s water quality over a 30 mile distance up to 50 times per year – every time it rains more than 0.25 inches. Other areas that have impaired water quality as a result of these CSOs include: Wethersfield Cove, North Branch Park River, Trout Brook, Goff Brook, among others. In addition, local basements and streets may experience backups and flooding of raw sewage as well.
What’s the Solution?
Green infrastructure (GI) is an alternative approach to stormwater management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle, using water as a resource. Widespread adoption of GI techniques can help reduce the cost of eliminating sewer backups and localized flooding, while providing many co-benefits such as cleaner air, cooler city streets, increased public green space, and enhanced wildlife habitat, all of which improve the quality of urban life. One cost-effective approach to green infrastructure is downspout disconnection.
Disconnecting residential downspouts located in the combined sewer areas of Hartford is a low-cost approach recommended in the EPA Next Steps Memo. Homeowners can separate their roof downspouts from the combined sewer system and redirect roof runoff onto pervious surfaces such as lawns and rain gardens. This approach, which has been successfully implemented by other cities around the country, reduces inputs to the combined sewer system while absorbing excess runoff and greening the city.
How Can You Help?
To help encourage homeowners to disconnect their downspouts, the Office of Sustainability’s Green Infrastructure Team is implementing a pilot program in Hartford. Eligible homeowners will be given a FREE downspout disconnection kit (a $25 value!). The first step in qualifying for the pilot program is to determine whether your home meets the following requirements:
- Do you own your home in a target area (below in blue or red)?
- Is your downspout connected (Click to see a diagram example)?
- Is your roof at least as large as your lawn?
- Does your lawn/pervious area gently slope away from your home?
If you answered yes to all four questions, contact us by email or call 860-757-9739 for more information. If your home qualifies, we’ll provide you with a homeowner’s kit with the following items: downspout extension, standpipe cap, and splash block. Supplies are limited, so act now.
Help protect our waterways by using stormwater as a resource for greening the city. Contact us now to participate!
Note: Eligible homes will be checked to see if they meet the above qualities given specific metrics including determining disconnected roof-to-lawn ratio, location in a CSO area, and the slope of the lawn/pervious area.
Downspout Disconnection in Action!
Downspout disconnection, in combination with rain gardens, has already been implemented at Keney Park and in the West End and Blue Hills neighborhoods. At Keney Park, the Keney Park Sustainability Project (KPSP) teamed up with the Long Island Sound Study and the Farmington River Watershed Association to disconnect the downspouts at the Keney Park House. According to Herb Virgo, the group’s director, the project’s benefits include free water for gardens and the lawn, a dry basement, and reduced erosion. The KPSP edible rain garden below is watered by a two downspout disconnection extension pipes.
Helpful Resources For Installing Your Downspout Disconnection Kit
- Visit ReduceRunoff.org, a Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound project, for helpful instructions, pictures, and more
- Watch the City of Portland’s how-to video here
- For a more detailed installation instructions, check out D.C. or Portland’s informational brochures.
Want to Take Downspout Disconnection a Step Further?
- Add a rain barrel underneath the disconnection to store water for later. During peak summer months, you could save 1,300 gallons of water! Read the CT DEEP brochure or stormwater manual (pages 61-63) for more information
- Add a rain garden to complement your disconnected downspout. Download the UConn Rain Garden app or visit the NEMO website to learn how to design and install your very own rain garden
Interested in Learning More?
- This pilot program is designed to address Goal 1 of the water section in the city’s Climate Action Plan, to reduce discharges into sewers and waterways. Read more about Hartford’s other sustainable action goals here.
- Want to keep up with program updates and events? Sign up here to receive email updates.
- Interested in implementing other green infrastructure practices? Contact us here for more information.
Photos and Video Courtesy of Keney Park Sustainability Project
This pilot program has been sponsored by a grant from the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation.
The mission of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut’s coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change on the natural, built, and human environment.
More information about CIRCA can be found at circa.uconn.edu.