Stormwater Management

Stormwater Runoff
Stormwater is water from precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement when it rains or when snow and ice melt. The water seeps into the ground or drains into what we call storm sewers. These are the drains you see at street corners or at low points on the sides of your streets. Collectively, the draining water is called stormwater runoff and is a concern at commercial and industrial sites as well as your neighborhood because of the pollutants it carries.

Stormwater that does not evaporate or seep into the ground drains into over 54 miles of underground storm sewer pipe that carry surface runoff to Salt Creek. Every time it rains, thousands of gallons of stormwater enter our storm sewer system. As the runoff flows across lawns, driveways, parking lots, and streets, it collects pollutants.

Stormwater Pollution
Many people think that pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes only comes from industrial facilities or wastewater treatment plants. What people don't realize is that if all these sources of pollution were eliminated, up to 1/2 of the pollution would still remain.

The remaining source of pollution that is not caused by specific, identifiable sources are called non-point source pollution. Non-point source pollution is the result of everyday activities. Typical pollutants in urban areas include:
  • Detergent
  • Household hazardous wastes
  • Litter
  • Paints, oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from motor vehicles
  • Pesticides and fertilizers from lawns and gardens
  • Pet waste
  • Road salts
Impact of Pollutants
When these materials are improperly used or disposed of, they can be picked up by stormwater runoff as it flows across streets, parking lots, and lawns. After this stormwater runoff travels through the storm sewer system, it is discharged to receiving waters without any treatment. As a result, any pollutant that is dumped on the ground can end up in our creeks, rivers, and lakes.

There are serious problems associated with polluted stormwater. The pesticides, bacteria, and chemicals that may be present in polluted stormwater can pose a health risk to people. Aquatic plants and animals living in streams and rivers may become sick or die from contact with polluted stormwater. Clogged catch basins can be unsightly and can cause flooding problems.

Since stormwater is naturally channeled to or flows through underground pipes to Salt Creek there is no opportunity for treatment to remove pollution. So, each of us must be careful to minimize or eliminate substances which may inadvertently pollute our waterways when it rains.