Stormwater runoff can have a big impact on water quality our lakes, streams, wetlands, etc. When rain falls on residential, commercial and industrial areas the water washes over these surfaces as it runs off.  Typically this surface runoff is directed into lakes and streams via storm sewers.  Storm sewers are designed to route water to a stream quickly and efficiently. There is little to no treatment of this water before it enters the creek.

What are some typical pollutants?  Fertilizer and pesticide application, salt on paved areas, as well as soil or other debris from construction activities are examples of activities that can turn clean rainwater into chemical- and soil-laden water that runs off our land into our ponds, streams, lakes and rivers polluting them. 

While the above activities are permitted, there are other types of water-polluting activities that are not permitted.  These are called illicit discharges.  Illicit discharges include illegal sanitary sewer connections to the storm sewer, failing septic systems, wash water from car washes or Laundromats, dumping oil, paint or other wastes in or near a stormdrain.  Its very difficult and costly to locate and remove the contaminated storm water as the wastes have been mixed and inter dispersed with the storm water. 

Keep in mind that all human activities have the potential of impacting streams. It is unreasonable to think all human activity should stop.  However, it is reasonable to identify concerns and seek ways to minimize impacts.  Protecting our water resources is important for our quality of life as well as for economic health of our region.  Without clean water, we have nothing.

Storm drain stenciling is one method to raise awareness about the direct connection storm sewers have on our local streams.