What is Stormwater?
Let’s start with a definition. According to Wikipedia, the term ‘Stormwater’ is (and I quote) “used to describe water that originates during precipitation events” (rain). “It may also be used to apply to water that originates with snowmelt or runoff water from over watering that enters the stormwater system. Stormwater that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff, which either flows directly into surface waterways or is channeled into storm sewers, which eventually discharge to surface waters.”
Wikipedia goes on to explain the concerns that we should all, as a community, be aware of and vigilant against.
“Stormwater is of concern for two main issues: one related to the volume and timing of runoff water (flood control and water supplies) and the other related to potential contaminants that the water is carrying, i.e. water pollution.”
Let’s Talk About Stormwater Contaminants
We now know what is meant by the term stormwater and we realize that it is a concern. We know people and industry create pollution that enters our waterways and ends up in our environment. What can we do to control that pollution?
Prevention is the best pathway to a cleaner environment. If we were to keep the waterways clean we wouldn’t need to remediate the negative effects of pollution. To best understand how we can prevent water pollution we need to look closely at our storm water management strategies.
Stormwater management is the course or act of taking care of the quantity and quality of stormwater. Part of this management includes capturing and removing pollutants. Gross pollutants (trash and debris) and sediment can be captured through relatively simple (and inexpensive) devices and control mechanisms that are designed to filter the silt, sediment and solids from dirty storm water. It can also be managed through policy and procedural practices.
Impervious areas like parking lots, roads and compacted dirt don’t allow rain to seep into the soil. This is why urban areas generate far more runoff water than rural or forested locations. This run off water carries pollutants to other waterways.
What Can We Do About Stormwater Pollution?
In some locations, impure runoff from streets and freeways can be the largest source of water pollution. Management of stormwater may also involve source management. Substances can be controlled to prevent the discharge of impurities into the ecosystem. Soft structures like ponds, swales or even wetlands to work alongside existing or “hard” water drainage systems (like pipes and concrete channels) can also be effective for managing runoffs. For the rest of the runoff that ends up in the hard structures, pipes and outflows, a number of stormwater management products are available to help remove impurities from the runoff water before they enter the stormwater system or even groundwater resources.
Identify your risks are and search for solutions. Here are some products we offer that can help:
- Drain Warden in the stormwater drain pit to trap gross pollutants and oil sheen.
- Silt Warden in the drain pit to keep heavy silt and sediment from polluting.
- Silt Socks, or Containment Booms to control run off.
- Install an isolation valve in the pit to enable full control in the event of a spill.
- Use Drain Filters, Drainage Nets or Debris Booms to capture trash and debris.
It’s important to understand our impact. What we do or don’t do truly does make a difference. While there are regulations in place to help us know what we need to do, it’s important to teach others what we already know and learn as we go so they can also learn the importance of controlling stormwater pollutants entering our stormwater systems. Enquire in your organisation to ask about your Environmental Compliance and Stormwater Management policies and ensure staff are trained to prevent pollution.
If you would like to learn more try your government or local council websites.