Stormwater runoff is one of the most significant, yet unnoticed sources of water pollution.
When it rains, stormwater runs over yards, streets, roads, highways, parking lots, parks, and playgrounds, carrying everything in its path, including debris and pollutants. This water eventually flows into stormdrains, which don't have any type of water treatment and end up in our streams, lakes, and rivers.
It is this very same water that we bathe in, drink, swim and also affect our habitat including animals, ground, and plant life.
Many stormwater contaminants are made up of common items used by most of us such as fertilizers, car oils and greases, yard clippings, soil, and pet wastes. There are simple and not costly changes that you can make in your daily life that can help to prevent stormwater pollution affect in your life and community.
When oil or other fluids are spilled or leak from our cars onto driveways, streets and parking lots, there's a good chance it will be washed into nearby storm drains. These contain toxins that are harmful to fish and birds, aquatic vegetation, wildlife and humans.If you wash your car on the street or driveway, the soap and oily grit picked up by your car will be washed into nearby storm drains and then into our streams, ponds, rivers or reservoirs, without any treatment.
If you apply too many lawn fertilizers or pesticides, especially before a heavy rain storm, a lot of it may be washed into nearby storm drains and then our waterways and water bodies without treatment.
Once in the water, fertilizers promote growth and decay of algae that use up oxygen, which fish need to survive. Pesticides in stormwater runoff directly affect the health of aquatic organisms and human health if ingested.
Since organic matter contains nutrients, raking autumn leaves or grass clippings into gutters or streets for municipal collection or into the storm-sewer system also adds nutrients and oxygen-demanding substances to stormwater. Also, if a storm drain becomes clogged with debris, the system can become blocked and overflow causing flooding, damaging property. Poorly maintained garden beds or lawns also can be a source of sediment.
Pet waste is a common stormwater pollutant. Runoff contaminated with pet wastes can contain pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses that are harmful, causing sore throats, intestinal problems, rashes, nausea, and infections. If pet wastes enter water bodies they demand a lot of oxygen as they decompose. This reduces the amount available to fish and plant life, causing them to die.
The wastewater and sewage that drain from inside your house is treated and cleaned before it enters the ocean, but the storm drains in the street outside your home flow directly to the ocean, rivers, and lakes without any treatment. It is therefore very important that no one be allowed to dump waste of any kind onto street surfaces, drainage pipes and ditches, or into storm drains, they are only for rainwater.
By properly disposing of your household waste through your county recycling and household hazardous waste disposal programs you will help to ensure that contaminants from your waste do not contaminate stormwater.
If you live in Broome County click here for more information.
If you live in Tioga County click here for more information.
A storm drain marker.
Our water is a precious resource. And, clean water involves everyone.
Apply the tips above in your everyday life and keep an eye out for storm water drains throughout our area. Each drain is marked with the medallion you see pictured.
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