Storm Water Management Program
Storm water runoff is precipitation from rain or snow-melt that flows over the ground. As it flows, it can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and deposit them into a storm sewer system or nearby bodies of water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged, untreated, into the nearby bodies of water we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water.
The greatest threat from storm water is pollution. Polluted runoff can damage streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms and fish kills, muddy water keeps fish from feeding and breeding, and excess bacteria can harm both wildlife and people. If pollutants reach high levels, the water can be unsuitable or even dangerous for humans and animals. These conditions are unsafe for swimming and even recreational use that does not involve direct contact with the water, such as boating and fishing. For drinking water, filtering out pollutants and contaminants increases treatment costs, so we all pay higher water bills or our water is not as clean. When reservoirs fill up with sediment, reservoir capacity is reduced because they are full of silt, not water.
Before beginning an outdoor project, locate the nearest storm drains and protect them from debris and other materials. Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris such as concrete and mortar. Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible, and follow the directions on the label. Clean up spills immediately and dispose of the waste safely. Store substances properly to avoid leaks and spills.
Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled and recyclable products whenever possible. Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors. Filter and rinse paint thinner when using oil-based paints. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program, or donate unused paint to local organizations.
When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. 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 water-bodies.
DOs and DON'Ts Around Your Home
So what can you do to help protect surface and ground waters from so-called nonpoint-source pollution? You can start at home. Begin by taking a close look at practices around your house that might be contributing to polluted runoff: You may need to make some changes.
- Compost your yard trimmings:
- Compost is a valuable soil conditioner which gradually releases nutrients to your lawn and garden
- In addition, compost retains moisture in the soil and thus helps you conserve water
- If you elect to use a professional lawn care service, select a company that employs trained technicians and follows practices designed to minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides
- Keep storm gutters and drains clean of leaves and yard trimmings:
- Decomposing vegetative matter leaches nutrients and can clog storm systems and result in flooding
- Leave lawn clippings on your lawn so nutrients in the clippings are recycled and less yard waste goes to landfills
- Preserve existing trees, and plant trees and shrubs to help prevent erosion and promote infiltration of water into the soil
- Spread mulch on bare ground to help prevent erosion and runoff
- Test your soil before applying fertilizers:
- Avoid using fertilizers near surface waters.
- Over-fertilization is a common problem, and the excess can leach into ground water or contaminate rivers or lakes.
- Do not apply pesticides or fertilizers before or during rain due to the strong likelihood of runoff
- Use landscaping techniques such as porous walkways to increase infiltration and decreased runoff
- When landscaping your yard, select plants that have low requirements for water, fertilizers, and pesticides
- Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program.
- Clean up after your pet
- Dispose of household hazardous waste, used auto fluids (antifreeze, oil, etc.) and batteries at designated collection or recycling locations
- Repair auto leaks
- Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris like concrete and mortar
- Sweep up yard debris rather than hosing down areas. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible
- Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on lawn or other unpaved surface.
One problem associated with excessive quantities of storm water is urban flooding due to increased runoff. Flooding can damage property and can result in death and injury to people in harm’s way.
Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard. Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods. Consider directing downspouts away from paved surfaces onto lawns to increase infiltration and reduce polluted runoff. Paved surfaces retain less water and contribute to storm water runoff while vegetated areas help absorb water and can add beautiful natural components to yards.
Information provided by City of North Canton Engineering Department through the Clean Water Education Partnership.
For more information visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency at the EPA website.