What is Stormwater?
Rain, sleet and snow melt flows from our roofs, lawns, and driveways into the street or into drainage ditches where it enters the storm sewers through drains and catch basins. This water flows untreated through an outfall and directly into a stream or lake, carrying pollutants with it.
What is the Stormwater Program?
Many waterbodies in the United States were not meeting water quality standards after the implementation of the Clean Water Act. The source of some of the remaining pollution was stormwater runoff. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented a two-phased stormwater program to improve water quality. Phase I implemented the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which pertains to medium and large municipal separate storm sewers (MS4s). This phase issues NPDES permits to facilities and industries, allowing them to discharge wastewater up to a certain concentration of particular pollutants. The Phase II program covers MS4s in smaller, more urbanized areas. This Phase II program helps eliminate and reduce pollutants in stormwater entering the storm sewers in your neighborhood. The Lake County Stormwater Management Department (LCSMD) ensures compliance with the Phase II program for its member communities. Funded by a stormwater user fee, the program and its partner agencies, including the Lake County General Health District, ensure compliance with all aspects of the stormwater permit and improve water quality.
Role of the Health District
The Lake County General Health District performs outfall screenings where stormwater discharges to a waterway and investigates illicit discharges to stormwater systems. Authority comes from Memorandums of Understanding with various agencies, Rules and Regulations, and local illicit discharge ordinances. Discharges of pollutants should be reported to the Health District.
An illicit discharge to stormwater is anything other than stormwater flowing into the storm sewers in the street and directly to our rivers and lakes. Some examples of common illicit discharge are sewage, wash water, oil, and grass clippings. If you see anyone dumping directly into a storm sewer or the street, a hose or pipe running directly to a storm sewer, or staining around a storm drain, call the Health District.
Illicit Discharge Outfall
Pollutants in Urbanized Areas
There are many pollutants in stormwater that originate from households in urban areas. These pollutants include:
· grass clippings
· pet waste
· road salt
· car washing soap
· motor oil
· sewage from septic systems or leaking infrastructure
The pollutants have major harmful effects once they enter rivers, lakes and streams. They contaminate drinking water and destroy wildlife habitat. Only you can prevent these pollutants from entering stormwater in your neighborhood. Be environmentally conscious, clean up your trash, pick up after your pets, only fertilize your lawn when necessary, and properly dispose of auto fluids.