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
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.
NATIONAL POLLUTANT DISCHARGE ELIMINATION SYSTEM
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.
Eight communities within Medina County, the Cities of Brunswick, Medina, and Wadsworth along with portions of Brunswick Hills, Hinckley, Granger, Sharon, and Wadsworth 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.
The six minimum measures are:
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Involvement and Participation
- Elimination of Illicit Discharges
- Pollution Prevention for Municipal Operations
- Construction Site Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Storm Water Management.
We All Live in a Watershed
We all live in a watershed. Homes, farms, forests, small towns, big cities, and more make up a watershed. Watersheds cross county, state, and even international borders. In some areas watersheds are called drainage basins.
Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. Some in compass hundreds of square miles; others just a few acres. Just as a creek drains into rivers, watersheds are nearly always part of a larger watershed. Fore example, Ohio contains 44 principle watersheds, but all of them drain to either Lake Erie or the Ohio River.
Major Watersheds of Medina County
Getting to Know Your Local Watershed
Medina County is spilt by the Continental Divide which separates the waters that flow north into Lake Erie (East and West Branches of the Rocky River, East Branch of the Black River, and Yellow Creek) from those that work their way south to the Ohio River (Muddy Fork, Killbuck Creek, Chippewa Creek, River Styx, Wolf Creek, and Hudson Run).
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common location (e.g. a lake or river). As rainwater and melting snow run downhill, they gather sediment and other materials and may carry them into our streams, lakes and groundwater.
From an aerial view, watersheds have the appearance of a large tree with branches extending across the landscape. The largest or principle stream of the watershed is the tree’s trunk, while the larger branches are primary streams, the smaller branches are secondary streams all feeding into each other as they make their journey through the watershed.
How Are You as an Individual Effecting the Health of Our Waters?
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, non-point source pollution (NPS) in reality is the larger problem. NPS comes from sources all over the watershed, and its points of origin can be very difficult to determine.
As stated above, 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.
That’s right, water entering storm sewers does not go to a water treatment plant like the water in the sanitary sewer system. The water in storm sewers goes directly to a stream!
So what we do around our home or at work can and will directly affect the water around us!
Protecting Your Watershed
Ten steps that you can take to minimize nonpoint source pollution (NPS)
- Water plants and/or grass early in the morning or after sunset to reduce evaporation.
- Redirect rooftop runoff onto your lawn or collect in rain barrels.
- Apply pesticides and fertilizers only when needed-at the proper time, in the proper amounts, and according to instructions.
- Plant native vegetation.
- Properly maintain vehicles and recycle used motor oil at a local garage.
- Buy cleaners that are biodegradable, recyclable and/or multipurpose.
- Inspect your septic tank annually and have the system cleaned out every 3 to 5 years.
- Wen Washing your car, use a bucket instead of a hose, phosphate-free soap and direct water runoff to the lawn.
- Dispose of pet waste properly- in the trash, bury or flush down the toilet.
- Join a watershed organization!
Drinking Water: Where Does it Come From
About half of the United States population received its water from surface water sources, such as rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs. The other half gets its water from the ground, where water is stored in aquifers. This groundwater is stored in the cracks and crevices of rocks.
75% of the earth’s surface is covered in water; however, appearance can be deceiving. The amount of drinking water available for human consumption is quite small, less than 1% of the total water on earth!
Before running water, an average family consumed around 50 to 60 gallons of water per day; today the average family consumes around 300 gallons per day!
How much do you use?
Daily Water Use (gallons)
Flushing a Toilet 1.5 to 7
Taking a Shower (10 min) 25 to 50
Taking a Bath 36
Washing Clothes 35 to 60
Washing Dishes (Machine) 10
Washing Dishes by hand 30
Brushing Teeth (water running) 2
Washing Hands 2
Watering the Law 5 to 10 per min
Leaky Faucet (per day) 25 to 30
Washing Car (hose running) 180
394 billion gallons of water are used daily in the United States!