b'Chapter 7 Spare that Shrub! Do Your Part to Control Runoffand Erosion Wind, waves, and rain are as much a fact of Cape life as summer sunshine.When rain hits the Cape, it either sinks into theground or runs over land fast, picking up pollutants and soil before draining into Chathams many inland ponds, streams and coastal estuaries.Meanwhile, ocean waves and tides are eroding coastal banks and beaches. The best way to control both rain runoffand shoreline erosion is to make use of natural vegetation.Stormwater runoffdamages the Capes freshwater ponds and coastal estuaries by negatively impacting water quality.As runoffis swept toward wetlands and waterways, it carries a wide variety of pollutants such as heavy metals, paints, oils, grease, nutrients from lawn fertilizers, detergents, animal waste, and litter. Unchecked stormwater can also erode the land and carry soil sediments that can smother natural vegetation.On natural landscapes, most rain infi ltrates, soaks slowly into the ground and gradually drains through groundwater to nearby surface waters. During this gradual journey, there is time for uptake of many pollutants.But as more land is cleared for de-velopment, and more solid surfaces are built, such as roofs, roads, parking areas, and driveways, more of the water is collected by stormwater systems which often drain directly into ponds and the estuaries of coastal waters, with no chance for pollutant removal. Dealing with Surface RunoffThe Power ofPlants and ShrubsWe cant control the wind and rain but we can minimize the damage caused by runoffand erosion by taking advantage of the lands natural vegetation. Native species of shrubs, trees, and some grasses slow down runoff , hold soil particles in place, help maintain the soils capacity to absorb water, and, along the shoreline, absorb wave energy.The roots of plants also help fi lter pollutants from the water before it enters freshwater or marine ecosystems. Natural wetlands such as salt marshes, swamps, and bogs are especially good at slowing down the fl ow of runoffand fi ltering pollutants from the water passing through them, thereby protecting groundwater which we depend upon for drinking water on the Cape. Wait!Our coastal wetlands also defend against fl ooding and storm damage. The marshes surrounding the ponds and bays act as sponges to absorb and contain fl oodwaters and buff er upland areas from waves. This is why it is essential to preserve the regions wetlands. At home, you can help runoffabsorption by decreasing the size of your lawn and paved surfaces, and adding more native plants and shrubs. Seek out professional advice on what you can do to contain runoffon your own property or properly treat stormwater on your private roadway.Support town eff orts to control road runoffby installing catch basins or other stormwater structures that detain and fi lter the water before it enters the ponds or groundwater. Page 39bluepages.indd 39 8/26/2009 1:51:57 PM'