Storm water runoff is the main contributor to non-point source pollution entering the Vermilion River. During a heavy rain, pollutants such as sediments, pesticides, fertilizers, oil and other harmful chemicals are rinsed from parking lots and yards into storm drains, ditches and coulees that empty into the Vermilion River.
Planting wetland plants along the edges of ditches, coulees and bayous slows the flow and filters the water making its way into the stream. This allows more water to soak into the ground, and most pollutants contained in this water can be filtered by the plants and broken down by bacteria in the soil. Wetland plants planted alone these waterways also reduce the turbidity in the bayou caused by erosion.
Wetland plants will:
- Reduce flooding
- Reduce erosion of the bayou banks
- Improve the quality of water recharging our groundwater
- Increase the amount of water recharging our groundwater
- Reduce the amount of storm water that runs into the coulees and bayous
Tips About Wetland Plants
- Choose native plants because they are well adapted to local weather conditions.
- Beware of invasive species. They will crowd out more desirable species and become a serious nuisance.
- Wetland plants along the banks of a bayou or pond help to reduce flooding in that area by slowing and absorbing run-off.
- Wetland plants should be planted early spring, so they can become established before the hot, dry days of summer.
- Native plants don’t require fertilizers and pesticides, because they are already adapted to the area. Less fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn mean less in the storm water run-off and healthier bayou for us all. - Choose plants that will thrive in the conditions you’re placing them in. - How often an area gets water and how long the water remains will affect which plants are most appropriate for that location.
- Chooser plants that are appropriate for the amount of sun a particular area receives.
- Never gather wetland plants from public wetlands. Wetlands are protected by law and harvesting from them may constitute wetland destruction.
- Wetland plants can provide root mass and reduce erosion in areas that are suffering from land loss.
- Consider the benefits of the plants you choose. Buttonbush, for example, provides food and nesting for many types of birds and mammals. Many of our native wetland plants provide great resources for new habitat.
Links for more information
Wetland Plants Are Part of a Larger Picture
Every time it rains, the water that lands in your yard has to go somewhere. Some of it either soaks into the ground or evaporates, but during a heavy rain most of that water will become “surface runoff.” Surface runoff water will flow across your yard, into ditches and coulees eventually making its way in to the Bayou Vermilion.
Along the way, this water picks up pollutants such as oil, pesticides, loose soils, excess fertilizers and trash. This storm water runoff, and the pollutants it carries, is the biggest threat to the water quality of the Bayou Vermilion.
Through a grant with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Bayou Vermilion District is able to demonstrate five approaches that homeowners can use to improve the quality of storm water entering the Vermilion River:
- Wetland Plant Nursery
- Rain Garden
- Pervious Pavement
- Rain Barrels
- Detention & Bio-Retention Ponds