The Water Around Us- Storm Water Awareness

Why the concern for storm water runoff?

The answer is pollution. Although many people think of point source pollution (pollution that can be easily identified through an outlet pipe, such as an industrial plant or sewage treatment plant) as the primary source of water pollution, nonpoint source pollution (NPS) in reality is the large problem. NPS comes from sources all over the watershed, and its points of origin can be very difficult to determine.
When it rains or when snow melts, the water washes away pollutants that have accumulated on roads, highways, sidewalks, and parking lots. These pollutants are carried away by water and washed directly into local streams and rivers through ditches and storm sewers. When left uncontrolled, these pollutants can cause stream habitat degradation, a loss of aesthetic value, and contamination of drinking water supplies.


Permits for wastewater have been required through the Clean Water Act since 1972.  The USEPA began to regulate stormwater with the inception of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program.  In 1990, NPDES Phase I was established to regulate Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, Industrial  Storm Water, and Construction Sites disturbing 5 acres or greater.  More recently, NPDES Phase II was established in 1999.  This phase added small municipalities (in urbanized areas as defined by census data) and construction activities disturbing 1 acre or greater to the list of permitted entities. 

Fourteen communities within Medina County, the Cities of Brunswick, Medina, and Wadsworth along with portions of Brunswick Hills, Granger, Guilford, Hinckley, Lafayette, Litchfield, Medina, Montville, Sharon, Wadsworth, and York Townships have been designated as NPDES Phase II communities by Ohio EPA.

Under Phase II, permitted entities were required to develop a Municipal Storm Water Program (MSWP) aimed at reducing the discharge of pollutants and protecting or improving existing water quality by implementing six minimum control measures. These programs are required to reduce the discharge of non-point pollutants to the “maximum extent practicable”, protect water quality, and satisfy the appropriate water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.

Each program consists of six elements:

  1. Public Education and Outreach —Distributing educational materials and performing outreach to inform citizens about the impacts polluted storm water can have on water quality.
  2. Public Participation / Involvement—Providing opportunities for citizens to participate in program development and implementation, including but not limited to, storm drain stenciling, stream clean-ups, and/or encouraging citizen representatives to serve on a storm water management panel.
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination—Developing and implementing a plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to the storm sewer system (includes developing a system map and informing the community about hazards associated with illegal discharges and improper disposal of waste).
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control—Developing implementing, and enforcing a pollution control program for construction activities that disturb one or more acres of land (includes requiring controls such as water detention ponds, seeding, and mulching).
  5. Post-Construction Runoff Control—Developing, implementing, and enforcing a program to address discharges of post-construction storm water runoff from new development and redevelopment areas. Applicable controls could include preventative actions such as protecting sensitive areas (e.g. wetlands) or the use of structural BMPs such as grassed swales or porous pavement.
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping—Developing and implementing a program with the goal of preventing or reducing pollutant runoff form municipal operations. The program must include municipal staff training on pollution prevention measures and techniques (e.g. regular street sweeping, reduction in the use of pesticides or street salt, or frequent catch-basin cleaning).

Ten steps that you can take to minimize nonpoint source pollution (NPS)

  • Properly maintain vehicles and recycle used motor oil at a local garage.
  • When washing your car, use a bucket instead of a hose, phosphate-free soap and direct water runoff to the lawn.
  • Redirect rooftop runoff onto your lawn or collect in rain barrels.
  • Pick up pet waste and dispose of properly- in the trash, bury or flush down the toilet.
  • Inspect your septic tank annually and have the system cleaned out every 3 to 5 years.
  • Apply pesticides and fertilizers only when needed-at the proper time, in the proper amounts, and according to instructions.
  • Plant native vegetation.
  • Mulch grass clippings
  • Buy cleaners that are biodegradable, recyclable and/or multipurpose.
  • Join a watershed organization! 

Volunteer Opportunities Available!
All of the Phase II Jurisdictions within Medina County have developed management plans that specify the need for public participation.

The following is a sample list of volunteer opportunities:
Are you a teacher interested in a wonderful educational opportunity?
Get involved in the Stream Monitoring Program with local schools!
Would you like to sponsor a stream crossing to help make others aware of the importance of one of the county’s most precious resources?
Find out more about the County Creekside Signage Program!
Are you part of a group looking for a service activity? Learn more about the following programs:
Storm Drain Stenciling and Stream Clean-Ups
Or maybe your group would like to hear more about storm water issues facing Medina County?
Look into the Public Presentations Program!
Would you like to help oversee the implementation of your local township or municipal storm water plan?
Join your local Storm Water Commission!
For further information on any of these programs, contact the Medina County Soil & Water Conservation District or any of the participating entities.