Stormwater is the flow of water that results from precipitation and occurs immediately following rainfall or snowmelt.Where does stormwater pollution come from?
There are many sources of stormwater pollution, including automotive fluids, brake dust, leaves, grass clippings, pet waste, cigarette butts, soil, and garbage. These materials are generated everyday and combine to create an unhealthy mess that contaminates our local waters.Where does stormwater go?
When it rains, or when water is used, pollutants are picked-up from the ground and carried into the nearest storm drain down the street. The storm drains are not connected to a treatment system, so everything that flows down the drain goes directly to the nearest water body, ultimately flowing into the ocean.
Two separate systems
Wastewater systems and storm drains are two different systems. Wastewater systems include things like toilets, sinks, and showers. These systems are connected to waste water treatment plants where the water is treated before it is discharged. Water that enters the storm drains is not treated. Anything that goes into the stormwater system goes directly into local rivers, lakes, and streams.
Polluted stormwater runoff is the number one cause of water pollution in North Carolina. In most cases in North Carolina today, stormwater either does not receive any treatment before it enters our waterways or is inadequately treated.
Polluted water damages the wildlife in creeks, streams, rivers and lakes. Dirt from erosion, also called sediment, covers up fish habitats and fertilizers can cause too much algae to grow, which also hurts wildlife by using up the oxygen they need to survive. Soaps and other chemicals damage plants and animals when they enter the water.
The quantity of stormwater is also a problem. When stormwater falls on impervious surfaces like roads, roofs, driveways and parking lots, it cannot seep into the ground, so it runs off to lower areas.
Because more water runs off hard surfaces, developed areas can experience local flooding. The high volume of water also causes streams banks to erode and washes the wildlife that live there downstream.