Our water is as old as the earth. It moves through different forms of solids, vapors and liquids, but remains here for us to use and enjoy. It does not increase or decrease. It moves through the water cycle. We must keep it clean so we can enjoy it by having clean water to drink, for recreation, to use, to support habitat for wildlife, and to allow aquatic life to survive. As we go through our daily life we sometimes overlook all the ways we contaminate our waters. Being conscious of the decisions we make is the first step to clean water.
Stormwater is water from precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement. This occurs when it snows and ice melts or when it rains. Sometimes the stormwater is infiltrated, meaning it soaks into the ground, to support a healthy ground water aquifer. Other times stormwater enters a conveyance system and may enter surface waters. The draining water, is called stormwater runoff.
Stormwater runoff can be a problem. This stormwater picks up contaminates as it runs over the surfaces it contacts. Stormwater can pick up:
- Pesticides and fertilizer when it runs over treated grass,
- Pollutants and chemicals when it runs over solid surfaces called impervious areas such as roof tops, driveways, parking lots, roads, and more,
- Household hazardous waste such as cleaners and paint solvents, motor oil and other auto fluids and chemicals when dumped on the ground or in storm drains.
- Sediment when it runs over dirt also referred to as disturbed or un-stabilized areas,
- Trash and debris when heavy rains occur.
The pollutants, sediment, and trash are then deposited into our waters. Sometimes, the debris may clog stormwater conveyances and cause flooding. Plastic bags, six pack rings, bottles and other debris washed into water bodies can disable aquatic life such as ducks, fish, turtles, and birds. Some of the pollutants carry bacteria or toxins that could make you and wildlife sick. All these pollutants end up in the water we need and rely on.
Help make a difference by stopping pollution before it starts. Read more by clicking on "Ways to Prevent Stormwater Pollution", "Get Involved" and "Maintaining Your Stormwater".