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Our mission is to promote responsible land use decisions for the conservation, protection and improvement of soil and water resources by providing information assistance through effective partnering, technical guidance and education. To accomplish this goal, we partner with local governments to support on-the-ground conservation projects, we work with residents and landowners to learn and implement conservation practices, and we also provide technical services for stormwater management, sediment and erosion control.
What We Do
Why is Stormwater Compliance So Important?
Wherever you are, whether it is in California, Minnesota, Florida, or elsewhere in the world, stormwater management is a crucial part of being environmentally responsible – both as a resident and as a commercial or industrial enterprise.
Stormwater management simply refers to the management of surface runoff which results from rain or snow melt.
Surface runoff or stormwater runoff is water that flows over the land as opposed to seeping into the ground. It originates in most cases from heavy rainfall or snow melt, and runs over land to the nearest drain, creek, stream, lake, river, or ocean. It is untreated. As such, stormwater runoff is a huge contributor to waterway pollution, and it is the responsibility of industries and other private and commercial entities to maintain stormwater compliance in line with local laws and guidelines.
When it rains, part of the rain seeps into the ground or is captured by trees and other plants. The remainder of the water flows overland downhill to the nearest creek, ditch, drain, or waterway. Thanks to urbanization, natural land which used to capture large volumes of rain has been lost and much rain is now unable to seep into the ground. This natural land is now inhabited by streets, rooftops, parking lots, and means that the stormwater must find another way to reach the nearest drainage system.
Aside from sheer volumes of stormwater that flow in urban areas, the issue is that stormwater collects pollutants as it flows overland. These pollutants include bacteria from human and animal waste, nutrients and chemicals from garden fertilizers and pesticides, sediments, petrol by-products from leaking cars and other vehicles, and metals from rooftops, as well as industrial substances. Pollution can originate over a large area or from a single source. Whatever its origin, it can be very harmful to the environment, including humans, animals, and plants.
Stormwater management is also crucial to prevent local flooding and land erosion.
Problems with Stormwater Pollution
EPA - NPDES Stormwater Program Stormwater runoff is generated from rain and snowmelt events that flow over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, and does not soak into the ground. The runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. To protect these resources, communities, construction companies, industries, and others, use stormwater controls, known as best management practices (BMPs). These BMPs filter out pollutants and/or prevent pollution by controlling it at its source.
The NPDES stormwater program regulates some stormwater discharges from three potential sources: municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities. Operators of these sources might be required to obtain an NPDES permit before they can discharge stormwater. This permitting mechanism is designed to prevent stormwater runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local surface waters.
Population growth and the development of urban/urbanized areas are major contributors to the amount of pollutants in the runoff as well as the volume and rate of runoff from impervious surfaces. Together, they can cause changes in hydrology and water quality that result in habitat modification and loss, increased flooding, decreased aquatic biological diversity, and increased sedimentation and erosion. The benefits of effective stormwater runoff management can include:
- protection of wetlands and aquatic ecosystems,
- improved quality of receiving waterbodies,
- conservation of water resources,
- protection of public health, and
- flood control.
What are BMPs?
Best management practices (BMPs) is a term used in the United States and Canada to describe a type of water pollution control. Historically the term has referred to auxiliary pollution controls in the fields of industrial wastewater control and municipal sewage control, while in stormwater management (both urban and rural) and wetland management, BMPs may refer to a principal control or treatment technique as well.