Stormwater Basics

Water from rain and melting snow that flows over lawns, parking lots and streets is known as stormwater runoff. This stormwater runoff may flow through gutters, into catch basins, through storm drain pipes and ditches, or over streets and paved areas. Along the way, the stormwater runoff picks up trash (fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts, styrofoam cups, etc.) and toxins, bacteria and other pollutants (gas, motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides, and pet droppings). This stormwater runoff is usually not treated, and is discharged into local surface waterbodies and groundwater.

This polluted stormwater runoff can contaminate drinking water sources, force the closing of beaches because of health threats of harmful bacteria to swimmers, including those from Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), can kill fish and other wildlife, and destroy wildlife habitat.

Human activity is the primary cause of stormwater pollution. Everything that we put on the ground or into the storm drain can end up in our water.  Each of us has a responsibility to make sure these contaminants stay out of our water.