The MS4 Stormwater Management Program & Plan: Pollutants of Concern
The most effective stormwater management programs are tailored to protect the community's assets while solving its problems and meeting its particular needs. Designing our stormwater management program to fit our specific circumstances required gathering information about existing stormwater problems and potential sources, as well as identifying natural resources, watersheds, and geographic areas that are valuable and potentially vulnerable to impacts from stormwater.
Pollutants of Concern:
Floatables: Litter and debris that floats on the surface or is near the surface of waterbodies. Litter in waterbodies may be contaminated with toxic chemicals and bacteria, are unattractive to look at, and can cause death to aquatic animals and birds. Commonly observed floatables may include paper, cigarette butts, plastic containers, wrappers and cans.
Silt and Sediment: Soil/dirt particles that quickly fall to the bottom of waterbodies. Large amounts of silt and sediment, when dislodged and deposited in water bodies, can disrupt ecosystems by interfering with photosynthesis, respiration, growth, reproduction, and oxygen exchange in water bodies.. Storm water runoff that contains sediment can deposit harmful amounts of silt in sensitive areas such as wetlands, streams and lake bottoms harming habitat needed by aquatic insects and plants. Sediment can also transport other pollutants that are attached to it including nutrients, trace metals, and hydrocarbons.
Suspended Solids: Smaller soil particles that are suspended within the water and typically make water cloudy. Dense clouds of particulate matter suspended in water bodies can block sunlight, inhibiting photosynthesis by phytoplankton and bottom-dwelling aquatic plants, and can also suffocate fish.
Phosphorus: A nutrient typically found in fertilizer, excrement and detergents. Phosphorus promotes weed and algae growth in lakes and streams. Excessive weed growth clogs waterways and blocks sunlight. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can't exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
Pathogens: Bacteria and viruses include infectious agents and disease producing organisms normally associated with human and animal wastes, leakage from sewers and seepage from septic tanks. These organisms can cause disease in humans and animals when present in drinking water and through direct contact with water. Common biological contaminants in stormwater may come from litter, organic matter and animal/human waste.
Oil and Grease: Oil and grease includes a variety of petroleum based products and a wide array of hydrocarbon compounds. Oil and grease may be toxic to aquatic life, even in small amounts. Oil and grease in storm drains can generally be traced to restaurants, automotive leaks and spills, or improper disposal of used oil and automotive products into storm drains.
Nitrogen: A nutrient typically found in fertilizers and excrement. Nitrogen is considered a nutrient, and when deposited in excessive amounts into water bodies can cause a condition known as eutrophication. These nutrients can also result in excessive or accelerated growth of vegetation, such as algae, resulting in impaired use of water in lakes and other sources of water supply. In addition, un-ionized ammonia (one of the nitrogen forms) can be toxic to fish.
Metals: Metals including lead, zinc, cadmium, copper, chromium, and nickel are may be found in stormwater. Many of the artificial surfaces of the urban environment (e.g., galvanized metal, paint, automobiles, or preserved wood) contain metals, which may enter stormwater as the surfaces corrode, flake, dissolve, decay, or leach. Metals are of concern because they are toxic to aquatic organisms, can bioaccumulate (accumulate to toxic levels in aquatic animals such as fish), and have the potential to contaminate drinking water supplies.
Oxygen-Demanding Organics: Bio-degradable materials that consume dissolved oxygen in water as they decay. Natural decomposition of these materials may deplete dissolved oxygen supplies in surface waters. Dissolved oxygen (DO) may be reduced below the threshold necessary to maintain aquatic life, impairing or killing fish and other aquatic plants and animals.
Pesticides: Pesticide compounds including herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and insecticides. Pesticides may be present in stormwater at toxic levels, even when pesticides have been applied in accordance with label instructions. Accumulation of these compounds in simple aquatic organisms, such as plankton, provides an avenue for biomagnification through the food web, potentially resulting in elevated levels of toxins in organisms that feed on them, such as fish and birds.
Waterbodies of Concern:
Upper Mohawk River
Pollutant of Concern:
Floatables, Silt and Sediment, Suspended Solids, Phosphorus, Pathogens, Oil and Grease, Nitrogen, Metals, Oxygen-Demanding Organics, Pesticides.
The following non-stormwater discharges are typically exempt from the need for SPDES permit coverage. However, the State has determined the following types of discharges to be substantial contributors of pollutants to this particular MS4. As such, the identified discharges are considered illicit and must be addressed by following the illicit discharge minimum control measure ("MCM") requirements.
Even if these non-stormwater discharges are determined not to be substantial contributors of pollutants, the MS4 has elected to address the following types of discharges in their stormwater management program ("SWMP").
diverted stream flows
rising ground waters
uncontaminated ground water infiltration into defective pipes or manholes
uncontaminated ground water
discharges from potable water sources
air conditioning condensate
water from crawl space and basement sump pumps
lawn and landscape watering runoff provided that all pesticides and fertilizers have been applied in accordance with the manufacturer’s product label;
water from individual residential car washing
flows from riparian habitats and wetlands
dechlorinated swimming pool discharges
residual street wash water
discharges or flows from fire fighting activities
dechlorinated water reservoir discharges
any SPDES permitted discharge
Addressing Pollutants of Concern:
In the broadest sense, how the community will address pollutants of concern and specific areas of concern is accomplished through the Stormwater Management Program Plan as outlined within this website. More specifically, to address these issues it is necessary for the MS4 to undertake several critical stormwater management tasks such as, but not limited to: defining community goals for stormwater management practices; tailoring local laws to meet stormwater management goals and objectives; supporting land use planning and decision making to accomplish the best methods for managing stormwater in developed or developing areas; providing for community education and public participation, and managing municipal operations in a way to reduce pollutants in stormwater.
To assist regulated communities in accomplishing all necessary tasks associated with stormwater management, New York State has required MS4s to meet specific components within six Minimum Measures. For each Minimum Measure, the MS4 must set goals and select specific activities that will reduce pollutants of concern to the maximum extent practicable. Specific elements associated with these six Minimum Control Measures are described further in the website under the headings of: