Best Management Practices for
Urban Runoff & Construction

Construction and Land Development

  • Mulching – Mulching is putting down raked leaves or other organic matter over loose soil to hold it in place. The organic matter protects the soil from rainfall runoffs like glue to hold the soil particles to one another.

  • Seeding – Planting loose soil with some type of vegetation to hold the soil in place. Grasses usually work the best because they grow fast and some grasses have deep roots. A combination of mulching and seeding usually is the most effective method for holding soil on site in areas of a construction site that are not being actively developed.

  • Silt fencing – This is usually a fence made of a filter cloth that is placed down slope of a construction site. The fence catches sediment that runs off of the construction site.

  • Hay Bales – This is the same stuff that cows eat! Hay bales lined up end to end along the down-slope part of the construction can be a perfect silt fence. It tends to be cheaper than the silt fencing but has to be replaced when it begins to rot.

Lawn Care

  • Mulching – works as for construction above.

  • Seeding and planting – This is when loose soil is planted with some type of vegetation. Keep native plants (originally from our region) that looks good around your house. This is probably the best way to reduce pollution runoff in your yard. With most of the yard in native plants, you mow less. Also, maintenance of the yard is low because native plants are hardy and they also attract native birds and insects.

  • Mowing – Try to mow frequently with sharp blades on your mower. This way the mower (gas mowers) doesn’t have to work as hard and doesn’t put out as much air pollution. Better yet, try an electric mower. Electric mowers work fine and don’t require cranking or gasoline.

  • Composting – Composting is letting organic matter rot down to a stable form. Worms, bacteria, and other soil animals feed on fresh organic material and their waste is called compost. Compost contains organic nutrients and is excellent plant food. Leaves, branches, and lawn clippings are called “yard waste.” Yard waste is the perfect stuff to put in your compost bin. Don’t bag yard waste, compost it!

  • Pet Waste – This is pet poop, from dogs and cats. Pet wastes contain bacteria and viruses that may be harmful. In addition, it can contain substances like antibiotics or other medicines that can be harmful to the environment. Scoop up the pet waste, compost it, put it in the toilet, or put it in the regular garbage. If you compost the pet waste, just don’t put the compost on plants you grow for food. Remember: don’t BE a goop…scoop your poop!

Oil and Grease

  • Maintain your vehicle & equipment - Cars, trucks, bulldozers and other vehicles need to be well maintained. This means that you don’t want your machinery leaking oil, lubricants, power steering fluid, or gasoline. These substances belong in the machine, not on the ground or in the water. This way you save money and the environment!

  • Recycle your old motor oil – If you change the motor oil in a truck or car, recycle it! More and more places that sell auto parts or do lube jobs will accept and recycle used motor oil, car batteries, or even coolant free.


  • Use the boat yard – Marine paints used on the underside of boats contain metals like copper that is toxic to marine organisms…duh! Of course it contains something that is toxic, you don’t want barnacles growing on the underside of your boat. Nevertheless, you want to decrease the amount that goes in the water. Boat yards have places for cleaning the hull of your boat over the material that will “catch” the metals that come off during scraping or sandblasting the paint off of the boat.


  • Decrease the amount of impermeable surfaces – Impermeable surfaces like parking lots, roof tops, and roads absorb and radiate a lot of heat causing both air and water pollution. This is a large problem in big cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge. When it rains, the runoff water carries a lot of the heat with it into water bodies. Hotter water carries less dissolved oxygen that fish and other aquatic animals need. By building fewer strip malls, malls, parking lots, and buildings, we can prevent heat pollution.

  • Plant trees – Trees are cool! The color green is cool, too! Trees absorb high amounts of heat radiation that reach the ground because their canopies are green. Trees drink up gallons and gallons of water every day, thereby decreasing runoff that comes off of impermeable surfaces. Trees and other plants also take up a lot of nutrients and fertilizer that come off of lawns, decreasing the chance of algae blooms in streams. So, plant as many trees as possible.
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