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It is against the law to discharge pollutants into (1) the storm drainage system (2) surface water and (3) groundwater.
Streams serve as a natural habitat and a source of food to many animals, fish, and aquatic life. Pollution will kill a stream and everything that uses it for survival. A stream filled with these items will suffer:
These items contaminate water, causing death or illness to aquatic life, and fish by interrupting their reproductive cycle. The stream or waterway begins to fill up. The riparian corridor is destroyed. When that happens, the stream dies.
Pollutants also contaminate drinking water supplies. Antifreeze, detergents, and oils actually change the chemical makeup of water causing destruction not only to fish but also to the surrounding habitat for plants and animals. The economic loss is immeasurable.
The choices we make around our home will have an impact on our local streams. Some things you can do are:
Groundwater is rainwater that has had a chance to be absorbed into the ground where it "percolates" through the ground layers. This natural cleansing process removes most of the pollutants before they enter streams. Porous soil layers, detention areas, and forested areas help absorb rainwater and greatly eliminates a lot of damaging stormwater runoff. When groundwater has a chance to percolate through the ground layers and eventually draining into the streams as a natural process, this provides a steady flow of "clean" water to streams.
Runoff is rainwater that runs over the landscape picking up any pollutants that may be on the ground surface and carries these pollutants directly into the nearest stream. Runoff occurs when (1) there is an increase in impervious cover (rooftops, driveways, parking lots, etc.), (2) when soil is compacted by heavy construction equipment, or (3) when land is cleared by removing plants and trees that would normally help absorb rainwater. When rainwater cannot be absorbed naturally into the ground layers, rainwater runoff enters the streams too quickly causing erosion and flooding conditions.
Sanitary sewer drains are designed to drain wastewater and sewage from inside our homes. The sanitary sewer drains lead to the sanitary sewer system and ends up at a wastewater treatment plant. Unlike stormwater runoff from yards, streets, parking lots, etc, wastewater in this system is treated before being discharged into a natural water body.
Surface water runoff also called stormwater runoff flows across the top of yards, parking lots, streets, etc. In suburban areas, stormwater runoff enters a storm drain that takes water directly to the nearest water body. Water in a storm drain is untreated so it contains pollutants picked up by stormwater runoff and runs directly to the nearest creek or lake.
You can call the County Stormwater Division at 636-797-6228 or your local city government offices. Educational programs are available as well as publications that address pollution control practices.
Yes. Jefferson County has a Recycling Coordinator in the Solid Waste Division. For information on recycling centers call 636-797-5043. You can also visit the County Recycling website.
Rainwater or snow melt encounters materials on the ground including loose sediment, oil and grease, heavy metals, toxic household cleaners, organic debris, excessive nutrients, bacteria and viruses and litter. Often the chemicals, oils and trash are carried in in the runoff and discharged to streams rivers and lakes. To find out more about stormwater visit our Educational Resources page.
Sewer systems and stormwater drains are two different things. The water that goes down your house drain flows to a wastewater treatment plant where it is treated and filtered, then released to a receiving stream. But water that flows down driveways and streets into a gutter or ditch is not treated and flows directly to a lake, river or stream. The pollutants in the stormwater, are discharged to the lake, river or stream too.
An illicit discharge is the illegal dumping of any pollutant into the storm drain system. Pollutant examples include, but are not limited to, pesticides, fertilizers, weed killers, detergents, oils and grease, litter and illegal activities such as dumping materials into storm drains or connecting waste water pipes into storm drains.