Storm Water Pollution 101

Storm water has a lot more to it than just water.

Storm water is the water that runs into storm drains during and after a rainfall. It then gets routed into nearby lakes, streams, rivers or oceans, storm water runoff that ensures that our streets and neighborhoods don't flood. This storm water control occurs when the earth can't absorb the storm water, either because it's covered by nonporous surfaces like parking lots and roads, or the ground is too hard to soak it all up. Other sources of water that find their way into our storm systems come from activities like washing cars and watering lawns.

And a lot more than just water is swept down the storm drain. The list of items that cause storm water pollution is long and arduous. Depending on where you live, storm water can contain chemicals such as oils, fertilizers, cleaners and pesticides. Additionally, pet waste, leaves and grass clippings can also find their way to lakes and rivers along with soaps, detergents, litter and even particles from automotive exhaust. All of these things can choke lakes and rivers and wreak havoc with fish and wildlife.

The effects of storm water pollution reaching our lakes, rivers and oceans from storm water runoff are evident in so many ways. Chemicals can cause severe illnesses in fish and wildlife. Pet waste contributes to bacteria growth and spreads diseases to plants, animals and humans. Grass clippings and leaves decompose and rob the water of oxygen needed to support plant and animal life.

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