Stormwater Straight Talk: Stormwater and Outdoor Recreation

  • Published
  • By 78th Civil Engineering Group
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – As the weather warms up, many of us have begun to enjoy outdoor recreational activities with our families and friends. Robins Air Force Base has several picnic areas, walking trails, lakes and campsites to enjoy the environment. Activities such as hiking, camping and picnicking allow us to enjoy the beauty of nature. However, it is imperative to remember that these activities may have the potential to impact stormwater quality, which in turn affects our water bodies and the environment.

Stormwater runoff is rainwater that flows over the ground surface. It flows to local streams, creeks, lakes and rivers. As stormwater flows over the ground, it can pick up pollutants such as litter, pet waste and eroded soil, and deposit them into downstream water bodies. Once these pollutants enter the stormwater system, removing them becomes a challenging and costly task. Therefore, it is crucial to prevent these pollutants from entering the stormwater system in the first place.

When we enjoy outdoor activities, we can unknowingly contribute to stormwater pollution. For example, litter left behind at a picnic site can be transported to nearby water bodies via runoff. Similarly, soil erosion from hiking trails can lead to increased sediment in runoff.

Here are some ways you can help reduce stormwater pollution while enjoying outdoor recreation:
  • Leave No Trace: Carry out all trash and litter from your outdoor activities. This includes food wrappers, beverage containers, and biodegradable items like fruit peels.
  • Erosion Control: Stick to established trails when hiking to prevent soil erosion. Avoid creating new trails or cutting switchbacks.
  • Pet Waste Management: Always pick up after your pets. Pet waste contains harmful bacteria that can contaminate water bodies.
  • Outdoor Cooking: Properly dispose of waste, especially cooking oils, from barbeques and campfires. Do not dump the materials on the ground or in stormwater drainage.
  • Responsible Boating: Follow best practices to prevent fuel and oil leaks when boating. Contain trash so it is not windblown into the water. Dispose of any waste properly once back on land.
  • Mindful Picnicking: Use reusable items for your picnic to reduce waste. Dispose of any trash in designated receptacles.
    By following these practices, you can enjoy outdoor recreation while also protecting our water bodies and the environment. Remember, every small action counts when it comes to preserving our natural resources. If you observe any improper waste disposal or other activities that could harm our water bodies, contact Environmental Management at 478-327-9283.
Stormwater Straight Talk is a quarterly column intended to educate and inform base personnel and families about stormwater management.