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Stormwater Runoff

What is storm water runoff?

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

Waterfall

Why is storm water runoff a problem?

Storm water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water. The primary method to control storm water quality is through the use of best management practices.

Runoff

The effects of pollution...

Polluted storm water runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people.

Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grown. 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 from 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, often making beach closures necessary.

Debris - plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts - washed into waterbodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds.

Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.

Polluted storm water often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.

Grass Water

Most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage under a permit issued through the Stormwater NPDES permitting program. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is the appointed agency to implement the storm water regulations in South Dakota. This agency also provides public assistance for >nonpoint source pollution.

Debris

References

"10 Things That You Can Do to Prevent Stormwater Runoff Pollution"

Make Your Home the Solution to Stormwater Pollution Brochure

Protecting Water Quality from Urban Runoff

Water Efficient Landscaping

Presentation explaining storm water regulations

Photos of stormwater runoff, construction site runoff and public pollution problems

USDOT FHWA Stormwater Best Management Practices

Storm Water Best Management Practices in an Ultra-Urban Setting: Selection and Monitoring, USFHWA

After the Storm Windows Media Video File (US EPA and The Weather Channel, 2004, 22 minutes) (video may download depending on your browser)

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