A Message from your Public Works Director: Swales as an Environmental Benefit

Swales around the City are strips of land usually located in front of a house between the sidewalk and the street. Swales play an important role in the protection of our environment and the beauty of our City.

First, they are an area for natural drainage for stormwater that falls on streets, sidewalks, and driveway approaches. Swales allow the stormwater to drain and percolate back to the ground for our drinking water. Second, they protect our environment by filtering the stormwater from the street, picks up the oils, pesticides and lawn fertilizers that wash away from the property. The swales along with naturally filter out and reduce these pollutants, decreasing their loading on groundwater resources. If not treated by the swales, these pollutants would eventually end up in our canals, lakes, ocean and our drinking water.

Swales should be kept grassy, not just for beauty, but to catch these contaminants. Swales paved with asphalt or built up with dirt or gravel can cause health, environmental, and aesthetic hazards. It is against the Public Works Manual to have anything on the swale other than grass. Stormwater can collect and stagnate or may run off the paved surface, picking up leaves, litter, animal waste, oil, etc., that will runoff to other areas to include flooding your neighbors.

Property owners are required to maintain the swales adjacent to their property in good condition {City Code: Property Maintenance: Chapter 16, article #3, Section # 16-57 (e, h)} helping us to protect our canals and waterways. To ensure the swale areas stay in good condition, simply follow a few basic guidelines:

• Keep your Swale free of leaves, limbs and any other debris. Dispose of debris and oil properly, instead of placing them in your swale. Call Miami Dade County Solid Waste before your bulk trash is brought out to the swale for pickup. This will eliminate the grass from dying and keep the swale open if a storm approaches.

• Avoid parking vehicles on the swale. This will allow the grass to grow healthy and keep the soil loose so water can filter and soak into the ground more easily. On a side note, if you have to park on the swale please do not park on top of the sidewalks.

• Do not place asphalt, gravel, dirt or any material other than grass in sawles, to allow the water drain into the ground. Landscaping your swale area can be pleasing to the eye, but it also disrupts the natural drainage qualities of the swale. Consider landscaping behind your property line; you will still add beauty to your home while keeping the swale in its natural state. The City continues to plant trees in the swale area, not just to beautify and provide oxygen, but trees reduce water runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.

All landscaping within the swale areas shall be in accordance with established procedures approved by the city to include no plants or trees that are prickly to the touch and planting trees/bushes that obstruct visibility on intersections and driveways.

Short URL: http://www.communitynewspapers.com/?p=29443

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