What is stormwater and why is it important?
Stormwater is rain or snow that "runs off" across the land instead of seeping into the ground. Runoff is increased from surfaces which do not absorb water such as roads, parking lots, and roofs. The storm drains along streets and curbs allow rain and melting snow to move from the streets into a network of manmade pipes and natural channels ending up in our streams and lakes. Stormwater is not treated before it ends up in a stream, lake, or river. Stormwater replenishes our sources of drinking water – lakes, streams and groundwater. Clean stormwater is vital to our quality of life and to the quality of our drinking and recreational waters.
Everyone in Johnson County, including you, has an important role to play in keeping our stormwater and ultimately local water resources free of harmful pollutants. By playing your part you are helping Johnson County remain a sustainable community with a plentiful and safe water supply.
The Storm Drainage System and How It Works
The storm drainage system comprises of many storm drains, pipes and channels. Storm drains are openings in streets or curbs that are sometimes covered with metal grates. The storm drains allow rain and melting snow to move from the streets into a network of manmade pipes and natural channels. When water flows across yards, streets and other surfaces, it picks up contaminants and carries the untreated runoff to a natural body of water. Dumping wastes into a storm drain or on the ground directly affects the environment, damaging potential sources of drinking and recreational waters and endangering wildlife and habitat.
Potential Stormwater Pollutants
- Automotive fluids
- Litter, including cigarette butts
- Fertilizer and weed killer from yards
- Grass clippings, leaves and other yard waste
- Pet waste
- Soap, paint, cleaning supplies and other household chemicals
- Sediment from exposed ground
Stormwater pollution can:
- Increase the risk of illness and harm to individuals, particularly children, and pets who come into contact with the water
- Degrade the quality of water we use for drinking, irrigation, recreation and industry; which could cause increased treatment costs
- Damage the natural ecosystems of our waterways and damage the plant and animal habitat
- Clog storm drains with sediment and trash, requiring more maintenance and potentially cause streets to flood