Be Part of the Solution to Stormwater Pollution
In the City of Whitehouse, the stormwater system is separate from the sanitary sewer system. When it rains, pollutants such as oil, antifreeze, detergents, and pesticides are washed from driveways, yards, parking lots, and streets into storm drains.
This water is then discharged into our local watershed with no treatment. Stormwater Management is the process of controlling the runoff that comes primarily from impervious surfaces like parking lots, driveways, and rooftops.
How You Can Help
- Keep grass clippings, trash, and dirt off the streets and out of the gutter.
- Park your car on the grass before washing.
- Recycle used motor oil - do not dump! Most automotive stores collect waste oil.
- Spread the word about protecting our waters from polluted runoff to friends and family.
- Use fertilizers and pesticides as directed.
Wastewater & Stormwater
- Automotive Repair & Maintenance
- Construction Industry Stormwater Tips
- Residential Stormwater Tips
How Automotive Fluids Impact Stormwater
One of the leading sources of stormwater pollution is automobile fluids. Automotive Repair/Maintenance facilities are considered to be stormwater Hotspots, due to the volume of hydrocarbons, trace metals, and other pollutants found onsite. Common pollutants that can be found at these type facilities include:
- Brake Fluid
- Fuels (Gasoline, Diesel, Kerosene)
- Lubricating Grease
- Motor Oils
- Solvents (Paints and Paint Thinners)
What You Can Do
To prevent stormwater pollution, automobile products should be properly handled and stored. For example, make sure waste containers are in good condition, secure, and kept away from water resources. Some additional best management practices (BMP) for automotive repair/maintenance facilities include:
- All activities should be in a contained area on either a concrete or asphalt surface
- Mix the right amount of paint needed for the job
- Use less toxic substances, when available
- Use funnels or pumps when handling liquids or wastes
- Never discharge any waste into a street, ditch, or stream
Stormwater runoff caused by construction can have a major impact on the environment. Two such impacts are erosion and sedimentation. As the soil is disturbed in preparation for a construction project, the soil becomes less stable and protected. As stormwater passes over this loose soil, it carries the soil away, transporting it to lakes and streams.
The added soil clouds the water, which keeps aquatic plants from growing, and may pose a threat to fish and wildlife. Debris and hazardous waste produced during construction are other sources of pollution that can impact our environment. Maintaining your Best Management Practices (BMP) will help minimize your impact on the environment as well as help beautify our community as it continues to grow. Consider the following practices.
- Install key sediment control practices before site grading begins.
- Minimize the amount of exposed soil.
- Identify and protect areas where existing vegetation, such as trees, will not be disturbed by construction activity.
- Protect streams, stream buffers, woodlands, wetlands, or other sensitive areas from any disturbance or construction activity by fencing and/or otherwise clearly marking these areas.
- Inspect and maintain silt fences after each rainstorm.
- Make sure the bottom of the silt fence is buried in the ground.
- Securely attach the material to the stakes.
- Make sure stormwater is not flowing around the silt fence.
- Remove mud and dirt from the tires of construction vehicles before they enter a paved roadway.
- Make sure that the construction entrance does not become buried in soil.
- Street sweep regularly at the construction entrance to prevent dirt from entering storm drains. Do not hose paved areas.
If stormwater picks up debris like dirt, grass clippings, and other yard waste, it can block catch basins, pipes, and other stormwater conveyance systems and result in the flooding of streets, homes, and cause other damage.
It is also important to know that everything that enters the stormwater system is discharged untreated. To help minimize flooding and pollutants from reaching our streams, rivers, wetlands, and/or ponds, here are a few tips.
- To prevent flooding, do not leave yard waste in the street or sweep into a storm drain.
- Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and well in advance of a storm event to minimize algae growth.
- Collect rainwater from your roof in a rain barrel and use during dry months.
- Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations.
- Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on your yard so the water infiltrates into the ground.
- When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly.
A watershed is the land that drains into a body of water such as a stream, lake or wetland. Because water flows downhill, watershed boundaries are always located on the top of hills or mountains. Rain falling on one side of the hill will flow into one watershed, while rain falling on the other side of the hill will flow into another watershed. Any changes to the land in a watershed will affect the water body it drains into, such as a stream or pond.
As we develop land, creating more impervious surfaces such as rooftops, sidewalks, and streets, rain water has less area to soak into the soil. Instead, it flows over streets and sidewalks into storm drains that empty into our waterways, sometimes at high velocities which can cause erosion.
Rainwater also picks up pollutants such as sediment from small construction sites, contaminants washed from streets, and fertilizers or pesticides washing from lawns. These pollutants then enter the stormwater system and are released into our waterways, without treatment. This type of pollution is called non-point source pollution. It is one of the major threats to rivers today.
Because non-point source pollution is not associated with a specific point of entry into a water body, it is more difficult to regulate than point source pollution, pollution from a designated source. By taking the necessary steps to minimize these sources of pollution, we can create a clean, beautiful environment for our future.