Stormwater Runoff

Runoff in a parking lot

When it rains, stormwater runs off of the paved surfaces of our city streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks and lawns. As it flows over these impervious surfaces, it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants before entering a storm drain, and then flowing into the closest body of water. Though the amount of any particular pollutant might not seem like very much, when multiplied by the size of a given community, it has a very large impact on the quality of our water.  Pollutants commonly found in urban stormwater runoff include: sediment (dirt), fertilizer, pesticides, motor oil, grease, heavy metals (lead, copper, zinc, cadmium), leaves and grass clippings, pet waste, and litter.

Stormwater Runoff public service announcement - watch it online! 

What are the effects of stormwater runoff?

Stormwater runoff that has been polluted has adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people. Sediment clouds the water and makes if difficult for aquatic plants to grow and can even destroy aquatic habitats.

Sediment runing into a storm drainToo many nutrients from fertilizers and pesticides can cause algae blooms, which, in turn, remove oxygen from the water, when the algae die. When oxygen levels are low, fish and other organisms cannot survive.

Bacteria and other pathogens from pet waste can wash into recreational areas and create serious health problems.
Sediment pollutes drinking water sources
Litter such as cigarette butts, bottles and cans, plastic items often wash into creeks and streams and can kill, suffocate or hurt the creatures that reside there.

Household hazardous waste should be taken to 3RC The Envirostation [pdf/1p] to be recycled. Household wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, motor oil and antifreeze poison the creatures living in the creek or stream. People and other animals can become sick or die from eating diseased fish or ingesting polluted water.

Polluted stormwater affects drinking water sources – which affects human health and increases drinking water treatment costs. 

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