WETLAB Western Environmenal Testing Laboratory
Serving Nevada, California, Idaho and Wyoming
Sparks (775) 355-0202
Elko (775) 340-3173
Las Vegas (702) 475-8899
WETLAB BLOG
09
JUN
2009

Impacts of Stormwater Discharge on Water Bodies

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Posted by Ginger Peppard, Business Development Manager

I recently attended a great workshop hosted by Placer County and the Town of Truckee entitled “Stormwater Quality Workshop for the Truckee Area Emphasizing Regulations, BMP’s and Low Impact Development.” The workshop was designed to provide contractors, developers, planners, engineers and inspectors with information needed in order to be in compliance with current storm water and non-storm water discharge requirements. It also addressed current regulations, Best Management Practices (BMPs) for construction sites and an overview of Low Impact Development (LID). For more information about the workshop (or to see when they are going to schedule it again!) or about Placer County’s Stormwater Quality Program, email: stormwater@placer.ca.gov.

Why is stormwater monitoring and quality important?

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snowmelt flows over impervious surfaces (such as roads, driveways, buildings, sidewalks and parking lots). These impervious surfaces prevent the water from soaking directly into the ground. Stormwater runoff is a problem because, while the water is traveling over these impervious surfaces, searching for an area to infiltrate, it picks up speed, as well as debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants. Because stormwater is not treated (or minimally treated in some areas), those large concentrations of pollutants are then deposited directly into the storm drains, or in many cases, directly into streams, rivers, lakes or wetlands.

These harmful contaminants then come in direct contact with fish and wildlife and pollute the water that many of us depend on for recreation activities and for drinking water. Some of the common pollutants found in stormwater are: motor oil, grease, automotive fluids, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, paint, solvents, insecticides and sediment and other large debris such as plastic bags, cigarette butts and bottles and cans. Bacteria and other pathogens are also common contaminants and can create serious health hazards. All of these pollutants have serious hazards, either to humans or to the fish and wildlife that inhabit our local streams, lakes and wetlands.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent stormwater runoff pollution:

  • Prevent soil erosion by vegetating bare spots in and around your property. If you have livestock, take all possible steps to prevent overgrazing.
  • Pick up after your pet and dispose of waste in a proper waste receptacle.
  • Cover piles of Pick up after your pet and dispose of waste in a proper waste receptacle.
    loose landscaping materials.
  • Do not disturb vegetation or soil around natural waterways. Stick to defined trails while enjoying the outdoors.
  • Never dump anything down the storm drains or directly into waterways.
  • Dispose of used auto fluids, batteries, solvents, paints and prescription drugs using proper disposal methods. Many of these items have designated drop off or recycling locations.
  • Take your car to the car wash instead of washing it in your driveway.
  • Use fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides sparingly.
  • Don’t over water your lawn.
  • If you have a septic tank, have it professionally inspected every 3 years and pumped regularly.
  • During construction activities, minimize disturbed areas, stabilize slopes and avoid disturbing natural channels. Also minimize the amount of dirt tracked out of the project site.

For more information from Placer County, or additional information brochures for homeowners, construction, Post-Construction and Business/Industrial, visit Placer County’s website at http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/Works/StrmWtr.aspx.

About the Author
Western Environmental Testing Laboratory (WETLAB) is an environmental testing laboratory based in Sparks, Nevada. We believe our people and their commitment to our clients are what make our lab great.

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