What Is Stormwater?

Stormwater is runoff from rain or snowmelt that flows off streets, rooftops and lawns into our storm drains. From the storm drains, the runoff flows directly into our streams, lakes and rivers. 

What is the problem with stormwater runoff pollution anyway?

Stormwater runoff picks up pollutants and debris as it flows across rooftops, lawns, streets and parking lots. During periods of rainfall, pollutants are picked up and washed directly into our streams, rivers and lakes. Some of these pollutants include oil and grease, harmful bacteria, fertilizers, toxic chemicals and other contaminants that are harmful to both people and aquatic life. A common misconception is that water running off of streets and into storm drains goes to a wastewater treatment plant. It does not. In fact, stormwater receives no treatment. 

What is the source of all these pollutants?

We all are! The fact is that all of us are part of the stormwater pollution problem. Many of the things that we do on a daily basis, including taking care of our lawns, driving our cars, washing our vehicles and walking our pets can contribute to stormwater pollution. In addition, there are several categories of business activities that can pollute stormwater runoff. Since we are all part of the problem, we now have the opportunity to be part of the “solution to stormwater pollution.” 

How can we solve the problem? 

As the public becomes aware that there are problems with stormwater runoff quality and begins to take action, the water quality of our region's streams, rivers and lakes will improve. 

As people learn that the storm drain or swale on their street flows directly into a nearby stream, they will be more interested in what enters into the storm drain. They will also be more likely to support the efforts of their local government to address the problems of stormwater runoff quality in their community.

Remember: Stormwater does matter.

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