Hotline - (518) 869-6372
|Randy Rivera, Stormwater Management Officer|
Protecting Water Quality from URBAN RUNOFF
Clean Water Is Everybody’s Business
In urban and suburban areas, much of the land surface is covered by
buildings and pavement, which do not allow rain and snowmelt to soak
into the ground. Instead, most developed areas rely on storm drains
to carry large amounts of runoff from roofs and paved areas to nearby
waterways. The stormwater runoff carries pollutants such as oil, dirt,
chemicals, and lawn fertilizers directly to streams and rivers, where
they seriously harm water quality. To protect surface water quality and
groundwater resources, development should be designed and built to
minimize increases in runoff.
How Urbanized Areas Affect Water Quality
The porous and varied terrain of natural landscapes like forests, wetlands,
and grasslands traps rainwater and snowmelt and allows them
to filter slowly into the ground. In contrast, impervious (nonporous)
surfaces llike roads, parking lots, and rooftops prevent rain and snowmelt
from infiltrating, or soaking, into the ground. Most of the rainfall
and snowmelt remains above the surface, where it runs off rapidly in
unnaturally large amounts.
Stormwater sewer systems concentrate runoff into smooth, straight
conduits. This runoff gathers speed and erosional power as it travels
underground. When this runoff leaves the storm drains and empties
into a stream, its excessive volume and power blast out streambanks,
damaging streamside vegetation and wiping out aquatic habitat. These
increased storm flows carry sediment loads from construction sites and
other denuded surfaces and eroded streambanks. They often carry
higher water temperatures from streets, roof tops, and parking lots,
which are harmful to the health and reproduction of aquatic life.
The loss of infiltration from urbanization may also cause profound
groundwater changes. Although urbanization leads to great increases in
flooding during and immediately after wet weather, in many instances
it results in lower stream flows during dry weather. Many native fish
and other aquatic life cannot survive when these conditions prevail.
Increased Pollutant Loads
Urbanization increases the variety and amount of pollutants carried
into streams, rivers, and lakes. The pollutants include:
• Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from motor vehicles
• Pesticides and nutrients from lawns and gardens
• Viruses, bacteria, and nutrients from pet waste and failing septic systems
• Road salts
• Heavy metals from roof shingles, motor vehicles, and other sources
• Thermal pollution from dark impervious surfaces such as streets and rooftops
These pollutants can harm fish and wildlife populations, kill native vegetation, foul drinking water supplies, and make recreational areas unsafe and unpleasant.
Managing Urban Runoff - What Homeowners Can Do
To decrease polluted runoff from paved surfaces, households can develop
alternatives to areas traditionally covered by impervious surfaces.
Porous pavement materials are available for driveways and sidewalks,
and native vegetation and mulch can replace high maintenance grass
lawns. Homeowners can use fertilizers sparingly and sweep driveways,
sidewalks, and roads instead of using a hose. Instead of disposing of
yard waste, they can use the materials to start a compost pile. And
homeowners can learn to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to
reduce dependence on harmful pesticides.
In addition, households can prevent polluted runoff by picking up after pets and using, storing, and disposing of chemicals properly. Drivers should check their cars for leaks and recycle their motor oil and antifreeze when these fluids are changed. Drivers can also avoid impacts from car wash runoff (e.g., detergents, grime, etc.) by using car wash facilities that do not generate runoff or washing your car on the grass.
For More Information:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Nonpoint Source Control Branch (4503T)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
After The Storm - A Citizen's Guide To Understanding Stormwater
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground.
Stormwater 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.
For more information and stormwater pollution solutions, please click here.
Mayor Leak Announces Support of Stormwater Coalition
February, 3, 2009
Village Conducts Resident Stormwater Survey
To view the results, please click here.
Village Hall / 2 Thunder Road / Albany, New York 12205 / 518-869-7562