302STOPPIT Report Water Pollution

Did you know that Sanitary Sewers and Storm Drains are different?

Sewer system collects water and wastes from inside homes and business and directs it to a waste water treatment plant or septic tank for sanitation.

Storm drain systems collect untreated water from outside of homes and businesses and discharges it directly to local ponds, streams and wetlands without treatment.

Untreated water carries pollutants that are unsafe for human and wildlife contact.  In large enough concentrations fish and wildlife can be killed and fishing or swimming is prohibited.  As a public health issue, vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly and underserved communities can be disproportionately affected.  Economically speaking, clean water enhances our communities, reduces the need for tax payer funded repairs, increases property values and protects the quality of life that underpins neighborhood investments.

stormdrains empty into streams and ponds

What are illicit discharges?

When liquid or solid wastes are illegally disposed of, it is a danger to people and wildlife and can create expensive repairs.  Pollutants that are typically found in illicit discharges include heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, nutrients, oil & grease, solvents, paint, foam and other toxins.  If you wouldn't want to drink it or swim in it, then it doesn't belong in the stormdrain system.  

We don't have to accept water pollution. 

Clean water is central to healthy and prosperous communities.  We inventory and monitor storm water discharges to support this goal.

Trash, oil & grease, soap suds, sewage leaks and other observations are documented when we inspect stormdrains.  Testing for pH, detergents and clarity takes place in the field, other substances can be detected in the lab.  When an illicit discharge is found we distribute door hangers to the homes and business that are linked to the storm drain system or issue them a Notice of Violation (NOV) and Correction Orders along with their associated fines.

What happens when pollution is found?

Routine inspections and hotline tips are two ways illicit discharges are commonly found. Not all pollution occurs by willful negligence but rather by a lack of awareness by property owners or tenants.  To raise awareness, we place doorhangers on every residence or place of business within a shared stormwater system when pollution has been found.  These door hangers will describe the type of pollution found, where the sewer system discharges (stream or pond) and the date it was observed.  Maintenance crews and/or hazardous clean up personnel may be called to remedy the pollution. Additionally, county and state contacts with the legal authority to fine pollutors are notified.