Stormwater Pollution / Polluted Runoff
As stormwater streams over streets, driveways, lawns, and other surfaces, the flow picks up chemicals, dirt, debris, and other pollutants. Polluted stormwater can then flow into a storm sewer and be discharged untreated into a waterbody; or it can flow directly into a stream, lake, river, wetland, or coastal water. This can have many adverse effects on plants and animals, and is becoming the nation's biggest threat to clean water.
Unlike polluted discharges from industry or sewage treatment facilities (forms of point source pollution), polluted runoff (a form of nonpoint source pollution) is generated by all of us. Stormwater pollution starts with everyday activities, like washing our car, fertilizing our lawn, walking our dog, and disposing of motor oil. While most of our individual actions have only a small impact on water quality, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions that "the cumulative impact of how we choose to interact with our land and water is huge." To protect and restore the quality of our streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans, we all need to develop more water-friendly habits.
Below are some simple actions that we can take to help improve water quality:
- Recycle motor oil at any auto parts store.
- Wash your car on a pervious surface (like gravel). Or better yet, bring it to a car wash that recycles and treats water.
- Seed and mulch bare ground within 14 days after removing vegetative cover.
- Save plastic grocery bags and use them to scoop the poop from your pooch. Flushing pet waste is advised over leaving it on the ground.
- Have your septic system inspected every 3 years and pumped as necessary.
- Fertilize only in the fall. Use slow-release or organic fertilizers to help grass grow new roots and store nutrients for next year’s growth.
- If you have a pond, make its shore a no-mow zone.
Brochures and other resources containing additional information and suggestions for reducing stormwater pollution are available at:
- Chester County Water Resources Authority
- Chester County Conservation District (CCCD)
- PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP): MS4 Resources
- US EPA: Stormwater Outreach Materials and Reference Documents
For more information:
If you have questions or require additional information regarding stormwater, please contact the DEP's Southeast Regional Office.