A 100-year storm is defined as a rainfall event that statistically has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year.

If you seem to be hearing about 100-year storm events more often than you used to, it likely is because we are seeing more intense rain events than we have in the past.

Localized flooding has increased in many areas around Franklin County as a result of these intense rains and hard surfaces, which combine to create larger volumes of water running off of the ground more quickly.

Extremely hard rainfalls can negatively affect our streams and creeks and cause bank erosion.

But residents can help protect local streams and creeks, one property at a time, by taking some simple steps around their home. These steps, courtesy of the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, also could increase the natural beauty around your home.

* Keep debris off streets and out of storm drains.

Grass clippings, leaves and trash can clog storm drains, resulting in runoff backing up onto streets, parking lots and adjacent properties.

* Reduce rain runoff from your property by planting a tree. Trees provide multiple benefits to our communities, including reducing stormwater runoff. They capture rainfall with their leaves and help rainwater infiltrate into the soil.

* Planting a tree that can handle periodic wet periods in a depression and directing downspout runoff there enhances the stormwater impact of that tree, allowing it to function like the native plants in a rain garden.

* Install a traditional rain garden. Learn more at centralohiorain-gardens.org.

* Add some deep-rooted, native plants in areas around your property, especially where water tends to runoff your lot, if there is such a location.

* Protect bare soil from erosion with vegetation and/or mulch to reduce runoff.

* Replace hard, impermeable surfaces (such as cement or asphalt) with more permeable surfaces (e.g. pavers, mulch, stepping stones or crushed rock).

* Install and use rain barrels.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to obtain rebates to help defray the costs of installing a rain barrel or compost bin, or planting a tree or native plants. Learn more at franklinswcd.org/community-backyards-program.

Residents can make a big difference in reducing stormwater runoff and localized flooding. Simple things like planting trees and keeping grass clippings, trash and leaves out of storm drains go a long way toward protecting our streams, creeks and natural amenities.

Kurt Keljo is a watershed-resource specialist for the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District. New Albany leaders asked him to pen the column after a recent stormwater meeting between representatives from the city's service department and the conservation district.