Storm water management
Storm Water Contact Information:
The Storm Water Hotline is provided for the public to call and report storm water quality problems. All calls are confidential and callers will remain anonymous. Please contact us to report any of the following.
Actual or suspected illegal discharges to the storm sewer system
Foul smells in the drainage system or waterway
Unusual colors or cloudiness in a waterway
Trash or debris in a drainage system or waterway
A leaking automobile
Wash-water being dumped on the street
Paint in a creek
Other MS4 Contacts, Departments, Boards, and/or Employees:
What is Storm Water?
Storm water is water from rain or melting snow that doesn't soak into the ground but runs off into waterways. In urban areas, runoff is usually transported via gutters, storm drains, catch basins, underground pipes, open channels, ditches and culverts. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it may accumulate debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality in the receiving waterbody. For this reason, we should try to limit impervious surfaces if possible. Since impervious surfaces allow very little water to penetrate the ground, it tends exacerbate flooding by transporting larger volumes of polluted water, more rapidly to streams, rivers and lakes. Conversely, vegetated or pervious surfaces allow water to penetrate the ground where soil cleanses the water, and where vegetation itself can cleanse runoff and slow the transport of water to receiving bodies of water.
Polluted runoff may impact lakes, rivers, wetland and other waterways in a variety of ways. For example, transported soil may cloud the waterway and interfere with the habitat of fish and plant life. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen (that are often found in fertilizer) can promote the overgrowth of algae, deplete oxygen in the waterway and be harmful to other aquatic life. Toxic chemicals from automobiles, sediment from construction activities and careless application of pesticides and herbicides threaten the health of the receiving waterway and can kill fish and other aquatic life. Bacteria from human and animal wastes can make nearby lakes and streams unsafe for wading, swimming and the propagation of edible fish.
According to an inventory conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), half of the impaired waterways studied are affected by storm water runoff originating in urban/suburban areas and construction sites. Storm water management, especially in urban areas, is the focus for seeking further reductions in pollution in waterways.