Stormwater becomes a problem when it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants as it flows or when it causes flooding and erosion of stream banks. Stormwater travels through a system of pipes and roadside ditches that make up storm sewer systems. It eventually flows directly to a lake, river, stream, wetland, or coastal water. All of the pollutants stormwater carries along the way empty into our waters, too, because stormwater does not get treated!
Pet wastes left on the ground get carried away by stormwater, contributing harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses to our water.
Vehicles drip fluids (oil, grease, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluids, etc.) onto paved areas where stormwater runoff carries them through our storm drains and into our water.
Chemicals used to grow and maintain beautiful lawns and gardens, if not used properly, can run off into the storm drains when it rains or when we water our lawns and gardens.
Waste from chemicals and materials used in construction can wash into the storm sewer system when it rains. Soil that erodes from construction sites causes environmental degradation, including harming fish and shellfish populations that are important for recreation and our economy.
Restoring Rain’s Reputation
Rain by nature is important for replenishing drinking water supplies, recreation, and healthy wildlife habitats. It only becomes a problem when pollutants from our activities like car maintenance, lawn care, and dog walking are left on the ground for rain to wash away. Here are some of the most important ways to prevent stormwater pollution:
Properly dispose of hazardous substances such as used oil,
Cleaning supplies and paint-never pour them down any part of the storm sewer system and report anyone who does.
Use pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides properly and efficiently to prevent excess runoff.
Look for signs of soil and other pollutants, such as debris and chemicals, leaving construction sites in stormwater runoff or tracked into roads by construction vehicles.
Report poorly managed construction sites that could impact stormwater runoff to your community.
Install innovative stormwater practices on residential property, such as rain barrels or rain gardens, that capture stormwater and keep it on site instead of letting it drain away into the storm sewer system.
Report any discharges from stormwater outfalls during times of dry weather-a sign that there could be a problem with the storm sewer system.
Pick up after pets and dispose of their waste properly. No matter where pets make a mess, in a backyard or at the park, stormwater runoff can carry pet waste from the land to the storm sewer system to a stream.
Store materials that could pollute stormwater indoors and use containers for outdoor storage that do not rust or leak to eliminate exposure of materials to stormwater.