Home site assessments protect water quality

Mapping out your home site can help identify activities that pose risk to water resources.

The water cycle connects water above and below the ground. What you do in and around your home can affect the water quality both below ground and in nearby lakes, rivers, streams and other surface water bodies. It is important to consider the physical characteristics of your home site as well as potential sources of contamination. These characteristics may speed up or delay a contaminant’s effect on water resources. You may find that you need to take steps to correct practices which might impact water quality.

There are several physical characteristics of your home site to consider:

Once physical characteristics are mapped out, create an aerial view of your property.  Mapping this out will help you identify potential issues, and allow you to make changes to minimize risks. Things to include are location of septic system, drinking water well, outbuildings, compost piles, water features, landscape and other built features with hard surfaces (such as rooftops, paved patios, roads, walkways) where runoff may be an issue, location of chemical storage areas and other potential pollution sources, location of storm drains, and areas where drainage is an issue, and general water flow patterns.

The “Home*A*Syst Guide – Home Assessment Guide” (WQ51) helps assess your potential for environmental risks in and around your home. Chapter one of this guide describes step-by-step how to create a site assessment. Printed copies are available at no cost through the MSU Extension Bookstore or electronically from the MSUE Oakland County web site.

Another guide that outlines steps to create a base map of your property is “Landscaping for Water Quality: Garden Designs for Homeowners.”

Now that you have thoroughly considering the physical characteristics of the site and have created a base map, Michigan State University Extension hopes it will be easier to identify potential problems on your property and take the necessary steps to reduce environmental impacts.