Welcome to H2OHero.org!

Welcome to H2OHero.org!

Welcome to my home in the Watershed. Here I'll show you how to be an H2O Hero just like me! Just do some exploring and I'll share 11 helpful tips with you. Then use the links or tabs below for even more information.

Clean up after your pets

Did you know that 15 to 20 percent of the bacteria in our waterways come from pet waste? Now that really stinks! Cleaning up after your pet is the simplest thing you can do to keep harmful bacteria from being washed into our storm drains, and eventually into our waterways. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Make a Rain Barrel

A rain barrel collects rainwater that can be used later to water landscaping around your home. This can save most homeowners over 1,000 gallons of water a year! Collecting and using rainwater helps protect the environment and saves money and energy by reducing the demand for treated tap water. Learn how to make a rain barrel for your home in our H2O Quality 101 section below.

Minimize your use of fertilizers and pesticides

Keep fertilizers and pesticides off driveways, sidewalks, and roads where they would run off into storm drains. Don't apply them near waterways. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Only Rain Down The Drain

Storm drains connect your neighborhood directly to the nearest stream or body of water. They're different from sanitary sewers, which connect to a treatment facility. it's never a good idea to dump anything into a storm drain because it doesn't get treated and will pollute our waterways. To learn more about storm drains, check out our H2O Quality 101 section.

Recycle Your Oil

When changing your car's oil, please make sure to recycle the old oil. Be sure to clean up any spills by absorbing with kitty litter or sand, then dispose of properly. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Keep the Pavement Clear of Grass Clippings

Mulching grass clippings or leaving them on your lawn provides a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Mowing high helps control weed growth. Sweep up grass clippings from roadways and driveways, and DO NOT dump grass clippings or other plant materials into streets, catch basins, or streams — the nutrients will leach from them and enter nearby waterways, spurring unwanted algae growth. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Mark Storm Drains

Storm drain marking can help deter storm drain dumping and reduce non-point source pollution by informing residents that anything that goes down a storm drain goes directly into a waterbody without being treated. To be an H2O Hero and volunteer to coordinate a storm drain marking event, read our "Get Involved" section.

Maintain a Buffer Strip Along Waterways

Undisturbed (unmowed) vegetation along streams and drainage pathways will capture nutrients that wash off your lawn before they are discharged to the waterway. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Dispose of Hazardous Chemicals Properly

If your garage is anything like Larry's, it probably has its share of half-used cans of paint, cleaners and chemicals lying around. Some people dump them down the storm drain - or throw them in the trash - just to get rid of them. Learn the right way to dispose of these materials so they don't end up getting into our groundwater and our nearby lakes and streams. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Visit the Local Car Wash

Sure, Larry likes to keep his wheels looking hot. But he knows that washing his car at the local car wash - instead of in his driveway - is the best way to keep harmful detergents from getting into our local waterways. For more information, read our "At Home" section.

Create a Rain Garden

A rain garden is a planted depression that is designed to absorb rainwater runoff from roofs and driveways. This reduces stormwater runoff by allowing rain to soak into the ground and replenish groundwater. By reducing runoff, rain gardens help protect water quality and reduce erosion and flooding. To install a rain garden in your yard, visit our "Get Involved" section.

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Green Projects

Green Projects

What is Green infrastructure?

Green Infrastructure (GI) is an approach to managing stormwater that protects, restores, and mimics the natural water cycle water quality, such as soaking the water back into the ground rather than creating runoff. GI practices include; disconnected downspouts, rain gardens, rain barrels, as well as others listed below.

What is permeable pavement?

Permeable pavement can be made of asphalt, concrete, or pavers and is comprised of materials that allow the movement of water through it to remove pollutants. It reduces the amount of runoff and pollutants entering local waterways.

What is bioretention?

Bioretention areas are similar to rain gardens, whereby the water soaks into the ground and the soil and plants filter out pollutants. They are designed to handle larger volumes of water than rain gardens, and are typically found on commercial sites.

What is a green roof?

A green roof is a roof of a building that is covered with vegetation and a growing medium such as soil. The roof is planted over a waterproof membrane that protects the structure from the water. The planted vegetation absorbs rainwater and reduces runoff.

What is a stormwater tree pit?

Stormwater tree pits are trees planted in urban environments where the soil and roots of the trees help absorb rainwater and pollutants and reduce stormwater runoff. The pits provide more space for the trees to grow and include special soils that help infiltrate the stormwater.

In addition to having the public participate in Green Infrastructure (GI) practices at home, the map above shows how your local government and organizations are doing their part to help reduce stormwater runoff. There are five notable locations within Monroe County, NY that are great examples of local GI projects. The map does not include all the GI Practices in the county.

The Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) Regional Green Infrastructure Showcase

The RMSC recently received two grants from New York State to create the Green Infrastructure Showcase, where it implemented a variety of new green infrastructure practices and exhibits. The green infrastructure practices used in this project include; a new porous asphalt parking lot, porous concrete sidewalks, porous pavers, bioretention areas, rain gardens, a green roof, rain barrels and stormwater tree pits. In addition, an artistic educational glass design, called “Genesee River Watershed,” created by local artist Nancy Gong, depicts the water cycle and how stormwater runoff ends up in Lake Ontario. The colorful art glass also functions as a scupper that will divert water from the pavilion roof to a rain garden.

In another part of the campus, disconnected downspouts transfer rainwater from rooftops to rain barrels. A treadle pump, a human-powered irrigation pump, offers guests an opportunity to pump the collected water out of the rain barrels into a rain garden.

The green infrastructure exhibits at RMSC demonstrate and explain how the green infrastructure practices featured outside on the RMSC campus work. Exhibits include, a rain garden puppet theater, a porous pavement demonstration, and a green infrastructure interactive game.

Rochester City Hall, 30 Church St, Rochester, NY

In 2012, the City of Rochester installed a variety of GI practices at City Hall including rain gardens, porous pavement, tree pits, and a green roof. The rain gardens, porous pavement, and tree pits can be seen while walking on Fitzhugh St. N. along the side of the building. Additionally tree pits can be seen along Church St. at the front of the building. The trees’ soil and roots help to absorb stormwater and reduce runoff, while also absorbing rain and greening up the urban landscape. The pits also provide the trees with more space to grow than within a typical urban environment. The green roof located on top of City Hall is unfortunately, not open to the public for safety reasons but can be seen from other buildings in the vicinity.

The City Hall Green Roof has a type of plant called Sedum. Sedum is a typical plant for green roofs because it is good at absorbing water as well as surviving through harsh winters.

Tree Pit located on Fitzhugh St. N. next to City Hall.

Here is Larry, our H2O Hero posing in a rain garden, next to the porous parking lot!

Monroe Avenue from Elmwood Avenue at Twelve Corners to Westfall Road, Brighton, NY

In 2011, the Town of Brighton, NY was awarded $1,565,000 in funding from the New York State Facilities Corporation’s Green Innovation Grant Program to retrofit a portion of Monroe Avenue into a green street. The plan included street trees, bio-retention areas, porous pavement, rain gardens, and restoring vegetative buffers. All along the street between Elmwood Avenue and Westfall Road, you can find bioretention and rain gardens. Bio-retention areas and rain gardens help to filter out pollutants from the impervious surfaces before the stormwater enters the natural water system. They use a combination of rock and vegetation to filter out large and small particles. Another example of GI was used at Brighton Middle School; a section of Buckland Creek underwent a stream bank restoration to create a buffer of vegetation between the stream and the surrounding area. Additionally, the town created GI themed bus stops, and a pedestrian overlook of Allen Creek at the Tom Wahl’s.

Condition of Monroe Avenue before construction began.

Located outside Char Broil resteraunt on Monroe Ave is a bioretention area as well as porous pavement.

The pedestrian at Allen Creek overlook gives the public the chance to see the creek that runs under this busy road.

Rochester, NY Civic Center Parking Garage- 55 S. Fitzhugh St. Rochester, NY

This is the concrete civic center courtyard before the green roof was constructed. All of the water that landed on it would run off into the stormwater sewer.

Aerial view of the Civic Center Green Roof, located on Exchange Boulevard in the City of Rochester. Find out more about this amazing courtyard below.

One of Rochester’s best kept GI secrets is the Civic Center Green Roof, located in the City of Rochester. It is not obvious when you are in this Courtyard that you are actually standing on the roof of the Civic Center Parking Garage. This green roof was built in 2011 for public access and made to feel like a park, but also serves an important function by reducing stormwater pollution. The roof used to be made entirely of concrete and when it rained, all of the water would run off from the roof into the storm drains without getting treated. However now the green roof absorbs some of the rain and the rest drains into a cistern. A cistern is a large holding tank that will store the rain to be reused to water the plants when it becomes dry. When the rain falls on the areas without vegetation, like the walkways, the concrete is made to allow it to percolate through and be collected in an under drain system. A study conducted by the New York State Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association found that in an average monthly rainfall of 2.66 inches in Monroe County, the roof should capture approximately 230,000 gallons, which equals approximately 3000 bathtubs. They also state that in a once a year type storm that creates 153,970 gallons (~2000 bathtubs) worth of rain, the roof will take in 64,826 gallons (~850 bathtubs) of rain. That is a 43% reduction in storm water runoff. This project offers multiple benefits including creating a green space for the public to enjoy in a sea of urban concrete but also contributes to improving water quality in Rochester.

This is what the green roof looks ike today. Same place, completely different courtyard.

Buckland Creek at Brighton High School, Brighton, NY

Buckland Creek flows right through the heart of the Town of Brighton, NY, including 12 Corners, residential areas, and school campuses. While development was occurring in this area, the creek’s health was not a major concern. In some sections, such as Brighton High School, the creek and all of the natural vegetation along the sides, also called a vegetative buffer, was channelized, or removed. Natural vegetation helps filter pollutants and reduce rain runoff. Pollutants contained in runoff that can be filtered by vegetative buffers include pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers containing phosphorous, automotive fluids, road salt, sediment, and pet waste. In 2011, many organizations, including the Stormwater Coalition of Monroe County, Brighton Creeks, Town of Brighton, Monroe County Dept. of Environmental Services, and Brighton Central School District, came together to help build a vegetative buffer along this section of the creek.

Buckland Creek at Brighton High School before there was any stream bank restoration effort in place. Note the lack of natural barrier along the banks.

Buckland Creek after restoration efforts, showing the vegetative buffer between the stream and the surrounding area.

Upcoming H20 Hero Events and Workshops


For pictures and information about local H2O Heroes and Projects, visit Larry's Facebook Page!