BMPs are classified into structural and non-structural (behavioral) categories. Below, we have included a few behavioral tips and structural BMP examples. The structural BMPs listed on this page are eligible BMPs to be funded through our cost share program.

Top Ten Behavioral BMP’s to Improve Water Quality

1. Maintain your Septic System

Get septic systems cleaned every 3-5 years, or maintenance as needed
Ensure there are no leaks or excess flow, this could be visible by a back up in drains or toilets, abnormally green vegetation over drain field or soggy areas
Know the location, age, size, and condition of your tank
Replace an outdated tank
Keep the soil over the drain field covered with grass or shallow rooted plants to prevent erosion
Keep harmful chemicals and cleaners out of the system
Do not use a garbage disposal in your sink

2. Plant Trees and Shrubs, or filter strips around and on your property

Plants help filter excess runoff, slow runoff, and absorb nutrients
Reduce lawn where possible and plant any bare areas, along ditches, creeks or ponds
Reduce the size of paved driveways, or consider, turf, interlocking pavers, gravel, or leave a vegetated center

3. Reduce Run-off from your property

Use rain barrel or cistern to capture and reduce runoff, this water can be reused for irrigation
Route your downspouts or drain pipes to empty water within your property- such as into a rain garden, grassy, or mulched area (this also decreases the need for irrigation)
Plant a rain garden in low area of your yard to manage and filter stormwater runoff. Don’t mow grass too low, keep grass 3” or higher to retain more water and have a healthier lawn. Keep grass clippings on lawn as a natural fertilizer.

Stabilize slopes or create terraces with vegetation or erosion control materials to reduce runoff

4. Carefully use and/or limit Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizers

Limit the usage of each
Try using natural or organic chemicals for your field or lawn
Avoid quick-release fertilizers and herbicides that may not be needed over the whole lawn
Determine actual plant needs, before applying
Sweep up and remove spilled contents from paved surfaces
Add organic compost at the beginning of a season to avoid fertilizers later in the season
Implement integrated pest management, by removing weeds or insects by hand, attracting natural predators (beneficial insects like ladybugs, praying mantises, etc), varying planting times to avoid infestation, rotating garden crops, and selecting disease and pest resistance plants
Treat only infected areas
Don’t apply on windy days or in rain

5. Dispose of Chemicals Properly

These can include but are not limited to acid, all-purpose cleaners, bleach, car wax, detergent, fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide, pesticides, pool chemicals, septic tank cleaners, toilet cleaners, windshield washer solution, etc.
Do not dump into storm drains, sewage systems, or bodies of water

6. Conserve Water

Avoid irrigation when possible
Install timers, directed sprinklers, or drip irrigation to avoid watering sidewalks and regulate water usage
Water in the early morning or late evening when it is the coolest.
Deep water once a week to encourage greater growth and reduce water usage and runoff
Introduce native plants, or drought-tolerant plants, which require little to no irrigation

7. Wash your Car on Grass

Washing your car on grass limits runoff and erosion.
Use non-toxic cleaners.
Minimize the use of detergents and water.
Better yet, use a car wash that recycles the water and/or has oil/water separators or
filtration for pollutants.

8. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

These can include: Borax, Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Lemon Juice.
Use low-phosphate detergents, dishwashing, soap, or other laundry substances
Use biodegradable cleansers

9. Manage your pet waste

Collect/store/dispose properly
Bury droppings away from water sources
Install a pet “septic system
Never leave pet droppings on the street or sidewalk

10. Maintain waterways

Keep yard clear of debris and fallen limbs from your yard that could enter the stormwater or river systems
Ensure at least one bank of drainageways, creeks, or ponds maintain tree or shrub cover
Store all hazardous materials in temperature-regulated, dry places
Never pour chemicals from your car or your house down the drain, in the toilet, or the storm sewer
Limit de-icing products, sweep excess salt and return it to the container after ice melts

What your business can do

Offer funding for local projects
Encourage employees to volunteer
Practice water conservation in business
Recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, and ink cartridges

What your local government can do

Integrate local environmental issues into city and county ordinances
Implement stormwater management guidelines
Plan for water conservation strategies
Offer rebates and conservation practice incentives
Assist neighborhoods and city organizations to help promote goals
Upgrade wastewater treatment facilities
Have staff participate on watershed teams

Structural Best Management Practices

Agricultural BMP’s

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (Nutrients & Pathogens)
Indiana NRCS FOTG Nutrient Management (590)
A nutrient management plan aids in applying the correct amount and form of plant nutrients for optimum yield and minimum impact on water quality.  Soil tests are performed, yield goals are determined, past applications are considered, and short and long-term goals are set for nutrient application.  This process can be applied in a variety of methods, whether they are broadcast, starter, surface band or injection aid in providing the proper application of the nutrient in spring or fall to the fields.  In the spring, nitrogen testing is appropriate for corn when it is 6-12 inches tall.  In the fall, refrain from applying commercial Nitrogen except if it is associated with Phosphorus application.  Avoid applying manure on frozen or snow-covered ground as this causes extreme nutrient run-off.  By applying the proper nutrient at the proper time through the proper method prevents over application of commercial fertilizers and animal manure that could infiltrate the water supply.  Retesting soils, monitoring fields, and analyzing nutrient applications along with establishing a maintenance program provides quality care of the land, water supply, and ensures quality yield.

Conservation Plan Development (Sediment & Nutrients) –
Indiana NRCS CPA-52 Conservation Planning Form
Conservation Plan Development is a process which outlines management decisions and conservation practices that are currently in use or planned for an area.  This plan discusses long and short term goals and objectives, collects information and data regarding nutrient and pest management, soil, water, and other resources, it identifies problems and potential solutions, and develops an implementation and maintenance plan.  A Conservation Plan creates the best decisions and actions for the land and the landowner.

Filter Strips (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Indiana NRCS FOTG Filter Strip (393)
Strips of grass, trees and/or shrubs or filter strips, filter and slow runoff and remove contaminants before they reach water bodies or sources.  The vegetation collects sediment, chemicals, and nutrients.  These sources are absorbed so they cannot enter the water bodies.  In addition, these strips provide habitat for a variety of birds and animals, it removes row crop operations further from the water body to reduce added risk, and reduces soil erosion.  Filter strips are most effective on slopes of 5% or less.  If the strip is steeper, it should also be wider.  A minimum of 15 foot wide strips should be used for cropland and minimum 50 foot wide for forestland.  These strips become less effective during frozen conditions.  Controlled grazing can occur as long as it is monitored.

Grade Stabilization Structure (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Grade Stabilization Structure (410)
An earthen, wooden, concrete, or other structure built across a drainageway to prevent gully erosion and reduce water flow aid in grade stabilization.  These structures drop water from one stabilized grade to another by providing a water outlet and improving water quality.  This prevents nutrients and sediment from contaminating a potential water source created by an embankment or field.  Ensure that all permits are obtained and construction specifications considered before construction.  Remove all trees and shrubs within 30 feet of the structure and any debris approximately 50 feet downstream from the outlet during construction.

Check Dams- Natural Implementation (Nutrients & Pathogens)
There are many different techniques to make check dams using natural materials.  These techniques are fast, and given local supplies, relatively inexpensive.  Some of the natural methods are coir fascines, wattle fences, straw bale, Sediment STOP, and Nilex GeoRidge.   Coir fascines are formed by taking willow branches and laying them in a long pile that is generally the length of the channel.  The pile should be 18-30” in height.  Tie the bundle along its entire length, compacting the bundle as you go.  Place this in a pre-dug channel approximately 3-6” deep.  Stake the fascines using twine or wire to prevent them from floating away.  Place soil or sphagnum moss on top of the bundles to allow the willow branches to grow. Wattle fences are formed by pounding the stems of dogwood or some other wood approximately 8” apart.  Take long branches of dogwood or willow and weave them through the stakes like a basket.  Make sure to push the branches into a tight bundle.  A second technique is to make two rows of stakes and weave a basket with an opening in the middle.  This can be filled with more sticks, creating thicker check dam.  Wattle fences are an effective and economical alternative to silt fence or straw bales.  Fertile topsoil, organic matter, and native seeds are then trapped behind the wattle to provide a stable medium for germination and increase stability. Straw bale check dams are simply created by placing straw bales in a row in the channel.  Stake them down using hardwood stakes.  This is a fast but effective method if stabilization is required in a short period of time.  Sediment STOP is a specially designed straw mat that is rolled and staked in place.  Sediment STOP is composed of a straw and coconut fiber matrix reinforced with 100% biodegradable netting.  It is water permeable and has greater filtration capabilities than other check dam techniques.  This creates a highly-effective, temporary, three-dimensional, sediment-filtration structure.  Nilex GeoRidge is a permeable ditch berm designed for erosion and sediment control. By acting as an energy dissipater, GeoRidge reduces flow velocities and provides a smoother, less damaging release of water. All of these natural techniques and others are effective in creating a check dams and other erosion controls for stormwater.

Grassed Waterway (Sediment & Nutrients) –
Indiana NRCS FOTG Grasses Waterway (412)
A grassed waterway is a natural way to prevent gullies from forming.  By analyzing the existing natural drainageways, the waterway should be graded and shaped to form a smooth, bowl-shaped channel that is deep and wide enough to carry the peek runoff from a 10-year frequency, 24-hour storm.  The NRCS design charts can aid in determining these measurements.  After the channel is complete, plant sod-forming grass ¼ to ½ inches deep in a figure eight pattern to avoid erosion.  An outlet can then be installed at the base of the drainageway to prevent a new gully from forming.  This grass covered strip provides stabilization to prevent erosion, may act as a filter for runoff, and could provide cover for small animals.  To maintain this waterway, avoid using it as a roadway for machinery, and fertilize and mow as needed (wait until after July 15 to mow so birds have had a chance to leave nests).

Livestock Exclusion (Nutrients & Pathogens) -
Indiana NRCS FOTG Fence (382)
Providing fencing and other natural barriers around water bodies ensures that animal contamination does not run-off into these sources or fields.  If livestock need to cross streams, provide a controlled stream crossing.  The stream bottom should be covered with coarse gravel to provide animals with firm footing, while discouraging them from congregating or wallowing in the stream.  In high sensitive areas, high tensile fence, solar-powered electric fences, or woven fence can be inexpensive alternatives to keep livestock from streams or to allow them a limited number of access points.

No-till Equipment Modifications (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Indiana NRCS FOTG Residue and Tillage Management- No Till/Strip Till/Direct Seed (329)
Modifications to farm equipment can be added to aid in no-till practices.  Leaving last year’s crop residue on the surface before planting operations provides cover for the soil at a critical time of the year.    Equipment modifications can vary and include no-till, mulch till and ridge till.  These techniques prevent soil erosion, protect water quality, improve soil tilth, add organic matter to the soil, and reduce compaction with fewer tillage trips.

Strip cropping (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Indiana NRCS FOTG Stripcropping (585)
Crops are arranged so that a strip of meadow or small grain such as oats, grass or legumes, is alternated with a strip of row crop such as corn or soybeans to create strip cropping.  These strips should be nearly the same width.  These alternative strips slow runoff, increase infiltration, trap sediment and provide surface cover.  Ridges formed by contoured rows slow water flow which reduces erosion.  Rotating these crops allows nutrients to be recharged by other legumes or grains and can reduce fertilizer costs.  In addition, grass and legumes should serve as the field borders to help establish waterways.  Slopes must be considered to accommodate equipment width and to maintain proper stripcropping width.

Vegetated Streambank Stabilization (Bioengineering) (Sediment & Nutrients)
Indiana NRCS FOTG Streambank and Shoreline Protection (580)
Grass, riprap, gabions, and other methods are installed along the edges of a stream to buffer the banks from heavy stream flow and reduce erosion.  A buffer zone of at least 15-25 feet of vegetation along the streambank filters runoff and may also absorb excess nutrients and chemicals.  Remove brush that adversely affects the desired vegetation of the bank.  Fencing may be added to prevent cattle from trampling banks, destroying vegetation and stirring up sediment.

Water and Sediment Control Basins (Sediment & Nutrients) –
Indiana NRCS FOTG Water and Sediment Control Basins (638)
A short earthen dam built across a drainageway where a terrace is impractical, though it usually is part of a terrace system directs runoff is a control basin.   This basin traps sediment and water running off farmland above the structure preventing it from reaching farmland below to reduce erosion and improve water quality.  The area draining into the basin should not exceed 50 acres.  The basin should be large enough to control a 10-year storm and ensure there is a tile or infiltration outlet for potential overflow.   Fill material should contain little to no debris and contain the correct moisture content for adequate compaction.  Seeding the embankment to maintain vegetative cover, reduce erosion, and provide cover for wildlife provides for a strong control basin.

Urban BMP’s

2-Stage Ditches (Sediment & Nutrients)
NRCS’ Stream Restoration Design Manual, Chapter 1- & Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 62(4) 277-296
Two stage ditches accommodate larger flows of water then most drainage channels.  A two stage ditch has two main channels, a larger shelf system and a small deeper channel.  This system more closely resembles and functions as a natural stream system and maximizes potential contact with the streambed and floodplain.  This aids in water’s contact with the bottom sediments where nutrients can be captured, exchanged, and controlled.  This provides a healthier stream environment.  By providing the initial channel with the ‘built-in’ floodplain it is able to contain nutrients, control runoff, and prevent erosion.

Bioretention/Rain Gardens
LID Manual for Michigan & City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Bioretention or Rain Garden systems use surface storage, vegetation, a select growing medium, flow controls, and other components.  This design can vary in size from a planter box to an acre or more and replicate natural hydrologic processes.  They improve water quality and reduce water quantity.  The ponding depth for water varies from 6 inches to 2 feet and the soil depth should be between 2 and 3 feet.  The side slopes should not exceed a 2:1 maximum ratio.  Rain gardens require minimum maintenance after initial establishment.

Curb Cuts/ Curbless Design (Sediment & Nutrients)
ity of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Curbless design or curb cuts allow stormwater to flow directly from a impervious source to a pervious surface.  This type of design discourages concentration of flow and reduces the energy of stormwater entering a management facility.  These systems are often used with bioretention islands or roadside swales.  Curb cuts or openings provide an alternative inlet control to complete curbless design.  Pavement edges should be slightly higher than the elevation of the vegetated swale and openings should be at least 12-18 inches wide.  Small rock or stone should be used at the inlet of the curb openings to provide erosion protection.  Filtering of water, control of quantity, and reduction of erosion from impervious surfaces are accomplished with curbless designs.

Drivable Grass (Sediment & Nutrients) -  Plantable Concrete Systems
Drivable grass and other forms of grass paving offer infiltration while maintaining heavy loads.    Drivable grass is an alternative to porous pavement.  Drivable grass has up to a concrete compressive strength of 5000 psi and also responds more favorably to freeze/thaw cycles.  Insects and micro-organisms within the grass aid in breaking down pollutants from runoff and slow runoff by creating ground water recharge and erosion by providing onsite infiltration.  It provides more durability and less construction and disturbance of the subsoil.  These systems can also reduce urban heat island effects.

Filter Strips (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Indiana NRCS FOTG Filter Strip (393)
Filter strips are vegetated sections of land designed to slow runoff.  They may use any type of vegetation from grassy meadow to small forest cover.  Filter strips are fairly level in surface and are used for a natural buffer and facilitates pollutant removal such as sediment, organic materials, and trace metals.  They are ideal for low to medium density residential areas where they can access, filter, and slow roof top and lawn runoff.  Slopes no more than 15% are ideal.  Filter strips require periodic repair, regarding, and sediment removal to prevent channelization.  They encourage urban wildlife habitat, increase groundwater recharge, and provide buffer, stabilization, and erosion control for water bodies.

Flow Splitters (Sediment & Nutrients) -
City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual & Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington
A flow splitter is a structure constructed to control runoff by providing diversion directions of various flow rates.  This system is most commonly used to divert large flows of stormwater away from sensitive areas or monitor flow rates, many times to a wetland.  By reducing the flow into these sensitive areas, the area will still receive water, but because of the decrease in flow, erosion and excess sediment discharge is avoided.  Flow splitters can be constructed with concrete, metal, or treated lumber and create a weir and plumbing system that directs water flow.

Green Roofs  (Sediment & Nutrients) -
LID Manual for Michigan & City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Green roofs consist of a layer of vegetation that covers a conventional roof.  The system is composed of multiple layers including the roof structure, waterproofing, a drainage layer, filter fabric, engineered planting media, and plants.  Vegetated roofs improve water quality, reduce water runoff, extend roof life, reduce heating and cooling costs, improve air quality by filtering dust particles, and reduce the urban heat island effect.  Green roofs can vary from 3inches of depth to 2feet.

Level Spreader (Sediment & Nutrients) -
LID Manual for Michigan, Designing Level Spreaders to Treat Storm Water
Runoff & City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Level spreaders are inlet controls that are design to uniformly distribute
concentrated flow over a large area.  There are many types of level spreaders that can be selected based on the peak rate of inflow, the duration of use, and the site conditions.  These controls reduce concentrated flow and erosion.  Types of level spreaders include a rock lined channel, concrete troughs and half pipes, or treated lumber.  Concentrated flow enters the spreader at a single point, the flow is slowed and energy dissipated.  The water flow is distributed throughout a long linear shallow trench or behind a low berm and is uniformly distributed along the entire length.

Low Impact Development (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Must be designed by professional engineer
Low Impact Development strategies offer environmentally sound technology and more economically sustainable approaches to addressing the adverse impacts of urbanization.  Key components of any LID strategies are conservation, small-scale controls, directing runoff to natural areas, customized site design and maintenance, pollution prevention, and education that can enhance the local environment, protect public health, and improve community livability.  LID strategies are economically viable; while initial costs may be higher, lower operation and maintenance costs offset this difference.

Permeable/Porous Pavement (Sediment & Nutrients) -
LID Manual for Michigan, IDEM Storm Water Quality Manual & City of Philadelphia Storm Water Manual
Porous/Permeable Pavement is an alternative to conventional pavement where runoff is diverted through a porous layer and into a subsurface infiltration bed.  This stored runoff then gradually infiltrates into the subsoil.  These pavement systems have high removal rates for sediment, nutrients, organic matter, and trace metals.  These systems also increase storm water quality and divert the quantity.   Porous/permeable pavement is ideal for soils with high infiltration rate and a slope that is less than five percent.  This pavement can only be used for lower traffic areas such as parking lots, sidewalks, and access roads.  The pavement must be maintained and kept from clogging due to debris and snow removal techniques such as salt or sand.

Rain Barrels (Sediment & Nutrients) –
City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Rain barrels, cisterns, or tanks are structures designed to intercept and store runoff from rooftops.  These systems can be above or below the ground and can be drained by gravity or be pumped.  The stored water may be slowly released to a pervious area or used for irrigation.  This water can even be filtered, treated, tested, and reused for non-portable water uses indoors such as washing machines or toilets.

Sand Filters (Sediment & Nutrients) -
LID Manual for Michigan, City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual & Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington
Sand filters provide the first barrier for storm water run-off.  Water is diverted into a self-contained bed of sand.  The runoff is strained through the sand, collected in underground pipes, and returned back to the water body.  Two systems can be used, “unconfined” sand-filled trench with a perforated underdrain or “confined” were the sand is contained in a concrete vault with a drain at the bottom of the vault.  Typical drainage areas vary from one to five acres and can be easily adapted to parking lots.  Sand or peat sand filters have high removal of sediment and trace metals, and moderate removal for nutrients, BOD and fecal coliform.  Sand filters must be maintained by removing excess debris and trash.

Stream Restoration/Daylighting (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Engineer Designed
Streams are ecosystems, not merely infrastructure.  Ensuring streams are restored and maintained is essential for water quality, runoff management, recreational and educational opportunities, and habitat.  Daylighting is one of the most extreme forms of stream restoration.  Stream daylighting is the act of removing streams from underground pipes and culverts, and restoring some of the form and function of historic streams.  This effort re-establishes a waterway in its old channel where feasible, or in a new channel.  These efforts aid in preserving or restoring the ecological integrity of watersheds as a whole, and even can encourage new wetlands, ponds or estuaries.

Stormwater Pond Riser Modification (Sediment & Nutrients) -
City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Pond riser techniques aid in controlling flow, especially outflow, and maintain a healthy water level for a pond.  These can be in the form of pipes, concrete box structures, or natural or constructed weir structures.  These efforts help preserve and maintain the ecological integrity of the pond, encourage sediment removal, help maintain positive nutrient levels, and decrease erosion especially during high outflows.

Subsurface Infiltration Beds (Sediment & Nutrients) -
LID Manual for Michigan & City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Subsurface infiltration bed systems are designed to provide temporary below grade storage infiltration of stormwater as it infiltrates into the ground.  These systems are typically stone-filled beds beneath landscaped or paved surfaces.  Stormwater flows into the subsurface system, collects within the aggregate void space, and slowly infiltrates into surrounding soils.  Overflow for larger storms must be considered, usually with a overflow pipe system.

Swales/Vegetated Swales (Sediment & Nutrients) -
City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Swales or vegetated swales are open channels that direct, store, reduce peak flows, increase travel time and friction, treat, and filter water.  A swale provides some infiltration and water quality treatment; though check dams and vegetation increase these capabilities.  Vegetation increases friction of the water and stabilizes soil.  Check dams often increase storage, dissipate energy, and control erosion.  Typical swales are 2-8 feet at the base whose side slops are at a 2:1 ratio.

Tree Box Filters (Sediment & Nutrients) -
VA Demonstration Project & LID Manual for Michigan
Tree box filters retain stormwater runoff and reduce impervious cover.  There are typically two types: flow-through and contained.  Flow-through tree box filters are designed to retain and slowly release water.  They have or are placed on an impervious surface.  Contained tree box filters slow stormwater runoff and drain through their base or overflow structures to surrounding soils.

Vegetated Streambank Stabilization (Bioengineering) (Sediment & Nutrients) – Indiana NRCS FOTG Streambank and Shoreline Protection (580)
Vegetated Streambank Stabilization, sometimes called bioengineering or soil bioengineering, describes varies methods of establishing vegetative cover by embedding a combination of live, dormant and/or decaying plant materials into banks and shorelines.  Sediment removal is the most important function of streambank stabilization, though it also aids in erosion control and overland runoff.

Water Retention Ponds retrofits (Sediment and Nutrients) -
City of Philadelphia, Storm Water Manual
Water retention pond retrofits are just one tool to restoring watersheds.  These retrofits are a series of structural, usually stormwater, practices designed to mitigate erosive flows, reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff, and promote conditions for improved aquatic habitat.  Retrofit processes begin with an analysis of the existing hydraulic characteristics of the facility or area and evaluating new options.  These tools aid in storing additional stormwater, directing flowpaths, inflows and outflows, and providing additional filtering and improving overall habitat.  Most retrofits provide 80-90% pollutant removal.

Wetland Creation/Restoration (Sediment & Nutrients) -
Indiana NRCS FOTG Wetland Creation (658) & Wetland Restoration (657), State of Pennsylvania Stormwater BMP Manual, & Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington, Volume 5
Wetlands are shallow pools that create growing conditions suitable for the growth of marsh plants.  Wetlands are designed to maximize pollutant removal through wetland uptake, retention, and settling.  These areas aid in wildlife and waterfowl habitat. The creation and restoration of wetlands provide an essential key to the health of the ecosystem.