If you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for any length of time, you know how wet things can get during the winter — well, to be honest, for most of the year.

All that rain, of course, can lead to many potential drainage problems. Heavy rains, melting snow, pockets of slush, overflowing gutters — there are many situations that can result in stormwater headaches on your property.

With wet winters in Whatcom and Skagit counties come flooding, erosion, foundation cracking and other damage caused by stormwater going where it shouldn’t on both public and private property. That’s why good concrete contractors in Bellingham and throughout the region are trained to use various techniques to mitigate stormwater problems. The use of retaining walls, proper grading, pervious concrete and expertly designed and installed underground drains can help water flow away from peoples’ homes and public buildings, helping protect investments and avoid costly repairs.

What’s more, proper stormwater management has a benefit beyond saving money. Improperly controlled stormwater picks up such pollutants as oil fertilizer, soap and pesticides as it flows across the ground. If it is allowed to return untreated to the sea, rivers or other water systems, that polluted water can have devastating effects on local plant and animal populations.

This exposed aggregate patio has built-in pervious concrete drainage.
Custom Concrete Contracting crews install pervious concrete near Lake Whatcom.

Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham have a number of regulations and guidelines related to stormwater management. If you are researching stormwater management issues, these are some good places to get started. In addition, the Lake Whatcom Homeowner Incentive Program offers assistance to property owners near the lake to make landscape and other improvements to reduce pollution and runoff into Lake Whatcom.

Here are some general tips on mitigating stormwater issues on your Whatcom County property:

Underground drainage. Have you ever seen situations where water runs down the driveway and right under the garage door into the home? It doesn’t have to be that way; a good drainage system installed in the concrete at the home’s edge will practically eliminate that situation. Underground drainage also can be installed to direct runoff from roof downspouts to other places on the property. For downspouts, you also might consider installing rain barrels or directing the runoff into catch basins or ditches. And if there’s a public stormdrain near your house, try to keep it free from debris.

Pervious concrete. Ideally, underground drainage won’t connect from downspouts directly to the city stormwater system, and certainly not to the sewer system, as sometimes happens in older neighborhoods. That extra runoff can strain the system. This is one area in which pervious concrete can provide tremendous benefits. As a hard but permeable surface, pervious concrete provides a durable parking and driving surface but also allows surface water to filter through to the ground beneath, breaking down harmful pollutants in the process.

Proper grading. The soil around a home should be sloped to direct rainwater away from the house. Water gets into and under the foundation can result in buckling and cracking of the concrete, which of course reduces the integrity of the foundation. Moisture in basements and crawlspaces also can present a host of other problems, such as mold and mildew.

Retaining walls. Even when a property is graded properly, houses that are built on slopes often are beset by the nightmare of runoff coursing down the hill next to the house. This runoff can wash away important soil around the foundation, or it can deposit silt against the house. Both are bad situations and can make it difficult to properly maintain the foundation. Good retaining walls can mitigate this situation by arresting the flow of water downhill and directing it away from the home.

For more information or for advice on managing your own unique stormwater situation, give Bellingham’s Custom Concrete Contracting a call.