Controlling erosion and preventing the spread of pollutants are important reasons to understand how your property impacts stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snowmelt cannot percolate into the soil or sediments. Modern buildings, roads and parking lots cause dramatic increases in stormwater runoff because they are made of impervious materials. To make matters worse, water flowing across these surfaces pick up trash and pollutants such as oil, pesticides, and other toxins on their way to local streams, rivers and lakes.

Creative landscaping that takes stormwater into consideration is the best solution to runoff problems. Walk the perimeter of your property during, or shortly after, a heavy run and look for areas that have water running into a street or onto sidewalks. Using plants, gravel or a combination of both in these areas will slow the flow of water and allow it to seep into the ground. Incorporate wood decks, gravel or interlocking bricks and stones rather than cement whenever possible to increase percolation. It’s best to limit the use of high maintenance areas, such as green lawns. If you choose to keep a lawn area, incorporate landscaping swales. These are low dips in the lawn that allow water to collect and percolate rather than flowing off the grass.



What is a storm drain? A storm drain is the grate openings in the street that collects water from rain and melting snow to minimize street flooding.  Rainwater often carries street debris, trash, leaves, fertilizer, pesticides, grass clippings, pet waste, paints, anti-freeze, used motor oil and bare soils that end up in the storm drains when people dispose of them improperly.

Where does it go? Everything that we do outdoors has an effect on the water bodies around us.  As water flows it collects difference pollutants that are left in its path.  It then travels to the nearest storm drain where it is carried to the nearest lake, pond, river or stream.  Let’s make sure “Only rain goes down the drain!”


STORM WATER POLLUTION PREVENTION- Take care of your trash, trash bins, and dumpsters. Post “No littering” signs and enforce anti-litter laws.  Provide a sufficient number of litter receptacles for your home or business.  Clean out and cover litter receptacles frequently to prevent spillage. Keep dumpster areas clean.  Recycle materials whenever possible.  Use all of a product before disposing of the container.  Ensure that only appropriate solid wastes are added to the solid waste container.  Certain wastes such as hazardous wastes, appliances, fluorescent lamps, pesticides, etc., may not be disposed of in solid waster containers.  Take special care when loading or unloading wastes to minimize losses.  Inspect dumpsters and trash bins weekly for leaks and to ensure lids are on tightly.  Replace any that are leaking, corroded, or otherwise deteriorating. Sweep and clean the storage area regularly and clean up spills immediately.

Snow and Storm Water

As snow piles up in the winter, we often turn to salt to melt snow and ice.  Excess salt can seep into groundwater and stormwater runoff.  Effective ice control can help prevent excess salt runoff to our waterways.

There are many alternatives to salt, including potassium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium acetate.  Most can be found in hardware stores under various trade names, so check the labels for chemical content.  While these alternatives can be spread in a dry form or sprayed as a liquid, their best use occurs when they are used with salt.  They tend to increase the efficiency of salt thereby reducing the amount that needs to be applied.

Keep in mind that your first line of defense should simply be to shovel sidewalks and pathways to keep them clean and to prevent ice from forming.  Also consider that salt and de-icers are not effective when more than 3 inches of snow have accumulated.


Did you know?

● Storm drains are not part of the sanitary sewer system.
● Storm water often goes untreated, directly into our rivers and lakes.
● Improperly used or disposed chemicals can mix with the storm water and contaminate local rivers and lakes.
●  These chemicals can end up in the aquifer, the source of our drinking water!

Rainwater running off houses, roads, and parking lots picks up pollutants such as dirt, chemicals, oil and soap as it flows to waterways.  Storm water does not get treated before it enters these natural waterways, and it is the leading cause of water quality problems.

By practicing healthy household habits, homeowners can keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, grass clippings, excess fertilizer, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of the storm water.

Adopt these healthy household habits to help protect lakes, rivers, and wetlands:In your Kitchen:
▪ Install a faucet aerator.
▪ Use cloth napkins and dishtowels instead of paper.
▪ Make sure your dishwasher is full before running it.
▪ Store food items in reusable containers.

In your Bathroom:
▪ Rub-a-dub-dub more quickly. Take shorter showers.
▪ Install low-flow showerheads.
▪ Use less water when brushing those pearly whites.
▪ Turn off the faucet when brushing teeth.
▪ Make your showers do double duty.  Hang clothes in the bathroom while showering to steam wrinkles out.
▪ Install a toilet dam to reduce the amount of water you flush away.

In your Laundry Room:
Make your purchasing dollars count.  When shopping for a washer and dryer, buy an energy-efficient, low water model.
▪ Clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap after every load.
▪ Give your dryer a vacation by hanging your clothes to dry.
▪ Use phosphate-free detergent.
▪ Turn down your water heater to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, especially during the summer.

At the Grocery Store:
▪ Consolidate shopping outings and cut down on trips to pick up one forgotten item.
▪  Buy grocery items in bulk.
▪  Buy items with less packaging.
▪ Tote your goods in style.  Use canvas bags to carry your groceries.
▪ Look for less toxic alternatives to household cleaning products.

All around the House:
▪ Turn off lights and televisions when not in use.
▪ Turn your thermostat up when you are out during the day.
▪ Replace incandescent light bulbs with high energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs.
▪ Don’t let energy go out the window (or door). Make sure your rooms are well insulated and doors to the outside are not left standing open.

In your Yard:
▪ Water your lawn in the early morning or in the evening.
▪ Xeriscape and use water-saving native plants.
▪ Compost fruit and vegetable scraps.
▪ Use pesticides and all household chemicals only when absolutely needed. Follow instructions.
▪ Dispose of all chemicals and oils properly. Most automotive part stores have free used oil recycling.  The Logan City Landfill takes household hazardous waste i.e. paints, cleaning solutions, solvents, for FREE.
▪ When raking leaves and mowing lawns, avoid placing debris in the gutter, swales, or on grates.  This will prevent the clogging of the storm water system, and possible flooding on your property.  It will also prevent those items from reaching natural water bodies, which may cause further pollution.

Remember, don’t put anything in the storm drain you wouldn’t want in your drinking water!


WHAT IS STORM WATER RUNOFF? Storm water runoff is the rain or snowmelt that runs off streets, rooftops, parking lots, lawns and other land surfaces. As communities develop, more impervious surfaces are created and less rainfall can soak into the ground. This increases flooding and stream bank erosion. Storm water also picks up pollutants as it flows across land surfaces. Pollutants include: ▪Sediment from bare areas like construction sites ▪Pesticides and fertilizers from lawns, parks, and roadsides ▪Bacteria and disease causing organisms from pet waste and failing septic systems ▪Oil and grease from car leaks, gas stations and industrial areas ▪Salt used on roads and driveways ▪Toxic chemicals from leaks, spills, and auto wear and exhaust. Sometimes pollutants (e.g., used oil, paint, thinners, etc) are illegally dumped directly into storm drains and waterways.

WHERE DOES THE STORM WATER GO? Storm water typically flows into storm drains on parking lots and street curbs where it enters underground pipes called storm sewers. Unlike sanitary sewers, storm sewers do not lead to a treatment plant. So storm water runoff directed to storm sewers usually receives no treatment before entering our streams, rivers, and lakes. The result can be the contamination of our drinking water supplies. See next month’s newsletter for tips on what you as a citizen can do to help prevent storm water pollution. 


As storm water runs off from a building or driveway it carries with it fertilizers, salts, insecticides that were applied too heavily, too carelessly, or too near the time of a storm. Storm water also carries oils, paint, chrome, and other products that may chip or seep from automobiles.

Another contaminant carried in storm water is the fecal material from dogs, horses, and other animals. These harmful contaminants stay suspended and are taken downstream to food producing agricultural fields, livestock watering systems, and fish inhabited waterways.

Residents can make a big difference. Here are 12 things you can do to prevent storm water runoff pollution:

  1. Use fertilizers sparingly and sweep up driveways, sidewalks, and gutters
  2. Never dump anything down storm drains or in streams
  3. Vegetate bare spots in your yard
  4. Compost your yard waste
  5. Use least toxic pesticides, follow labels, and learn how to prevent pest problems
  6. Direct downspouts should be away from paved surfaces; consider a rain garden to capture runoff
  7. Take your car to the car wash instead of washing it in the driveway
  8. Check your car for leaks and recycle your motor oil
  9. Pick up after your pet
  10.  Have your septic tank pumped and system inspected regularly
  11. Keep grass clippings out of curbs and away from banks of waterways
  12. Find proper receptacles for hazardous waste

Water Pollution Prevention

* Dispose of household hazardous waste properly
Never dump household hazardous waste such as pesticides, fertilizers, paint or solvents into a storm drain, open waterway or ditch. Storm drains discharge directly into canals and then streams without the benefit of treatment, unlike the drains inside homes and businesses that connect to the sanitiary sewer system. Beyond posing a threat to our health and environment, such as dumping is illegal.

* If your home has a drainage ditch or swale, do not fill it inLeaves swept to the curb will not be collected and can clog storm drains. Dumping yard waste into storm drains or waterways is harmful to the rivers and is illegal.

* Please don’t litter
Trash left along our roadways, ditches, and stream banks washes into our waterways through rain and melting snow. Not only is littering illegal, it is an eyesore which can endanger wildlife and can allow stagnant water to bred moqquitos. Debris can also block drain inlets, preventing effieient drainage.

* Maintain cars and driveways
– Maintain vehicles to prevent leaking fluids from washing into stormwater.
– Absorb leaks on the driveway with sand or cat litter, then sweep and place in the trash.
– Wash cars at a commercial car wash, or over gravel, if possible, to avoid the soapy runoff from entering the storm drains. Car – wash businesses are required to dispose of the water through the sanitary sewer system, where it can be treated.
– Sweep debris from sidewalks and driveways instead of washing it away with water.

* Dispose of yard wate properly

Remember it’s not only in keeping with city ordinances, but it helps to keep Wellsville a beautiful, healthful city.

Make your home the Solution to Stormwater Pollution! (pdf)