Stormwater Pollution Prevention
The City of Lebanon is required under Phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program to provide public education about the impacts of storm water discharges on water bodies and the steps that can be taken to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff.
Storm water runoff is the water that "runs off" the ground from rain and melting snow. As it flows across the ground it rinses the ground just like you may rinse off a plate, picking up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and carries them straight into nearby storm sewers, creeks, lakes, and other water bodies where it degrades aquatic life and pollutes the environment. Only around 1% of our water is usable drinking water. We cannot afford to pollute and contaminate it! Storm water pollution prevention is something that we all must take part in to protect our environment and reduce the impacts of storm water pollution.
Storm Sewers versus Sanitary Sewers
Storm sewers are meant to carry "clean" and unpolluted storm water runoff only. They are typically designed to flow by gravity and discharge directly to streams, lakes, and other water bodies without providing any kind of treatment to the storm water runoff whatsoever. Storm sewers are located wherever there are catch basins or storm water inlets which are structures often found along the road or in parking lots used to collect storm water runoff through a steel grate at the ground surface.
Sanitary sewers, on the other hand, are meant to carry "dirty" water and other non-storm water discharges from toilets, sinks, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, and other similar sources. They transport the dirty flows to waste water treatment plants where the discharges are treated and the pollutants are removed before the remaining clean water is released into the environment. Sanitary sewers do not have catch basins or storm water inlets. They are meant to be "closed off" from storm water.
Never dump waste, oils, or other unwanted materials into a catch basin or storm water inlet. It does not connect to the sanitary sewer and get treated! It only gets transported through the storm sewer directly to the fish waiting in the creek at the outlet of the sewer, causing pollution and degradation to aquatic life.
Erosion and Sedimentation Control
Stormwater runoff causes erosion of waterways such as creeks and ditches, resulting in sedimentation (the deposition of eroded sediment) into waterways, water bodies such as lakes and ponds, and storm sewer systems. Sedimentation of our streams and lakes destroys aquatic life and is considered a storm water pollutant. Erosion can be reduced by slowing down storm water runoff. The slower the rate of water runoff, the less erosion and sedimentation that will occur. Ground disturbance such as construction sites are typical sources for erosion since the ground within the site is usually torn up. Properly installed silt fence, grass and other ground cover, and other types of practices help to slow down the rate of runoff. Minimizing the amounts of ground disturbance, planting vegetation as soon as construction is complete, and installing mulches are always good practices to help prevent against erosion.
Spills of materials such as gas, oil, detergents, pesticides, fertilizers, and other household products can pollute and harm the environment. If not properly cleaned up, these materials may wind up in storm sewers which ultimately discharge directly to streams, lakes, and other water bodies. Always read and follow manufacturer's recommendations and warnings before using any products. Know where spills are likely to occur, such as in garages where fuel may be stored. Keep absorbent materials on hand to absorb spills and contain the spill. Quickly block any nearby storm drains to prevent spills from entering. Notify proper authorities such as the Fire Department of any hazardous spills.
Other General Tips
- Use pesticides sparingly.
- Fertilize only as needed using natural, organic, or other slow-release fertilizers. Consider the use of fertilizer that contains no phosphorous.
- Reduce storm water runoff by directing downspouts and gutters to drain onto the lawn or flower beds.
- Go to a car wash or wash your car in the grass. Don't wash dirt and cleaners down the driveway where it will go directly into the nearest storm drain.
- Recycle used motor oil. Never dump oil or antifreeze down storm drains! Many auto parts stores will accept used oil and antifreeze for free.
- Dispose of any household hazardous wastes at approved collection locations. Never dump them in a creek or storm drain.
- Use the least toxic products available in your home and garden.
- Pick up after your pet and dispose of their messes in the toilet or trash. Don't wash their messes into a storm drain.
- Properly dispose of leaves and grass clippings. Consider composting them. Never dump them into creeks or storm drains to get rid of them.
- Recycle all acceptable materials and use your garbage can for all other trash. Don't litter. It will eventually get washed into our creeks and pollute them.