What Is Stormwater Runoff?

Stormwater runoff occurs when the precipitation from rain flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent storm water from naturally soaking into the ground.


Why is Stormwater Runoff a Problem?

Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into the storm drain system and go directly to lake, stream, river, or wetland. Anything that enters a storm drain system is discharged untreated into the water bodies we use for swimming or fishing, etc.


Common Stormwater Pollutants

There are a variety of contaminants that can easily pollute our stormwater. Rain picks up oil and grit left on the roads; sprinklers wash pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers from our gardens and lawns; washing the car carries detergents, oils and grease from the driveway and into our waterways.

Motor Oil - Four quarts of motor oil can create an 8 acre oil slick and contaminate a million gallons of drinking water.

Antifreeze - Antifreeze is a toxic pollutant that can kill not only aquatic life but also pets when they drink from contaminated puddles.

Pesticides - The use of harmful  chemicals on your lawn can be reduced with proper mowing, fertilizing and watering.

Animal Waste - Pet and other animal waste is raw sewage that releases bacteria and oxygen-consuming materials into our waterways. Pet owners should always “scoop the poop”.

Soaps & Detergents - Detergents are pollutants that contain phosphorus which contributes to algae blooms. Algae blooms deplete waterways of oxygen and can cause fish kills.


Illicit Discharge and Detection

Environmental impact evaluations have shown that the elimination of non-storm water discharges is effective because illicit discharges may contain a significant amount of pollutants. Controlling the amount of pollutants that find their way into our waterways is an important environmental measure that can ultimately reduce the impact to our water bodies. Your assistance in reporting illegal dumping, illicit connections, and other non-storm water discharges will help all of us keep our environment and community clean!

 To report illicit discharge please contact the Solid Waste Department at 985-493-6909.


Cleaning Your Car

If you wash your car in the street or on your driveway, soaps, mud, oil and grease can wash directly into the storm water system. Many soaps contain phosphates which over-fertilize waterways and can lead to a build up of toxic algae which is harmful to fish and humans too.

What Can We Do to Help?

  • Try to wash your vehicle on a grassy area or over gravel.
  • Use as little soap as possible.
  • Check for any fluid leaks and maintain your car.


Pet Waste

Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters.

  • When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Seal the waste in a plastic bag and throw it in the trash. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increase public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.


The Effects of Pollution

Polluted stormwater runoff can have an adverse effect on plants, fish, animals, and people.

  • Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats.
  • Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen form the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can't exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
  • Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards.
  • Household hazardous waste like insecticides, pesticides, paints, solvents, use motor oil, antifreeze and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shell fish or ingesting polluted water.
  • Polluted storm water often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can effect human health and increase drinking water treatment cost.