Stormwater Awareness

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 or wetland. 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.

  • Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards. 
  • 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 water treatment costs. 
  • 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. 

Follow the tips below to help us keep stormwater clean:

Residential Tips

  • Always clean up animal waste when walking your dog. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local waterbodies. 
  • Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on your yard so the water infiltrates into the ground. 
  • Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations. 
  • Only use fertilizers on lawns sparingly. 
  • Don't overwater your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. 
  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects. 
  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Don't leave it in the street or sweep it into stormdrains or streams. 
  • Inspect your septic system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary (every 3 to 5 years). 
  • Don't dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.
  • Additional information: Stormwater brochure (English) | Proteccion de Agua de Lluvia (Español)

Commercial / Construction / Agriculture Tips 

How Much Do You Know? Test Your Stormwater Knowledge

Take the stormwater quiz and try to earn the highest grade to end up at the top of the clean water food chain.

Cuestionario en Español