- Public Works
- Stormwater Pollution Prevention
Stormwater Pollution Prevention
What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground.
Why is stormwater runoff a problem?
Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing, and providing drinking water.
The effects of pollution:
Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people.
- Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats.
- Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. 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.
- Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.
- Debris—plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts—washed into waterbodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds.
- Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life.
- Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
- Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
MWRD is continuing their rain barrel program. Rain barrels which are a type of green infrastructure that help keep rainwater from going directly into the sewer systems during a rain event. This helps prevent possible sewer overflows and flooding. Even though rain barrel water is free of chlorine, lime, and calcium, it is unsafe to drink or bathe since the water runoff comes from your roof. The best ways to use your rain barrel water is for watering lawns, plants/flowers, washing of vehicles, and cleaning of work tools and footwear. If your home has a copper roof or gutters, do not water plants with the rain barrel water.
Check on your rain barrel periodically especially when it has been raining to avoid overflow or flooding on your or your neighbor’s property. Do not leave rain barrels outside during the winter because the barrels can crack. Rain barrels come with a mosquito-proof screen under the lid. To avoid mosquitoes from breeding or developing larva especially during the rainy season remove any accumulated water from the top of the barrel every 3-4 days.
Since these rain barrels are repurposed, they may have scratches, scuffs, or show signs of usage. Before delivery, the rain barrels are washed and cleaned for use. For more information about rain barrels and how to order, please visit https://mwrd.org/rain-barrels.