The Stormwater World

Initial Thoughts from Someone New to the Field

Newest NPDESPro team members' initial thoughts on stormwater management and compliance...

Have you ever found yourself wondering about stormwater? I hadn’t (at least not in depth), that is until recently. Unless your job is somehow intertwined with stormwater management, the chances are that you haven’t either. You may have heard common words like “watershed” before and may even have a general understanding of the topic. More basic than that, everyone has seen the metal drain grates that line the sides of roads. If you are anything like me, you might have looked at them and only thought of scary clowns. But what exactly do they do? Where do they lead, and why?

These are great questions and the answers to them are worth a quick Google search, or maybe even a visit to YouTube if you find your curiosity piqued like mine was. For me, it was interesting to draw connections between these seemingly mundane things that I had been seeing and the purpose behind them. There is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to what you see while driving around your neck of the woods. Have you ever seen a pond that looked out of place? Maybe it’s located in a neighborhood or in the middle of a busy town? Well, even those serve a specific purpose in the stormwater world. Ever wondered what that black, tarp like fencing around a construction site is? This is a stormwater practice as well. This “silt fencing” is used to keep sediment, debris, and other pollutants on-site and out of streams and catch basins. 

Generally speaking, city infrastructures are built a certain way to support a goal. Whether those goals be environmental, safety related, or economic, it is important we start to be conscious of the cumulative effects of our day-to-day actions. For instance, everyone understands that littering is detrimental to the environment, but most people don't realize how even something as simple as washing their car in the driveway can potentially affect the environment through stormwater. There are countless other everyday tasks that can be harmful to our waters and it is crucial that cities provide information to the public on these matters. 

So, don’t let Stephen King ruin stormwater education. If you are not sure where to go to find information, start first by visiting your city’s website and navigate to the department page that handles stormwater in your area. Most cities provide tips for preventing stormwater pollution here. You can also head over to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for more facts on prevention, management, and laws/regulations.