A stormwater system is the path of drainage for precipitation, such as rain, sleet and snow. As soon as precipitation hits the ground and starts to flow over land, it is referred to as runoff. Runoff will carry harmful materials from roads and gutters into the stormwater system. Examples of negative contaminants of runoff include gas, oil, antifreeze, detergents, pet waste, fertilizers, and pesticides. Ultimately the stormwater system dumps runoff containing detrimental contaminants into our streams, ponds, and rivers, which makes these areas unsafe to use for drinking, fishing, crabbing, swimming or any other activity. The prevention of stormwater contamination is key to keep the water in Cecil County safe and enjoyable.
The following is a list of common urban pollutants, their causes and what you can do to keep stormwater clean:
1. Oil, gas, and antifreeze: These pollutants enter the stormwater system from poorly maintained vehicles, and improper disposal methods. These contaminants are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms.
- You can perform regular preventative maintenance and recycle oil at the Central Landfill.
2. Fertilizers and pesticides: These pollutants enter the stormwater system from being over-applied and/or applying to closely to a precipitation event. The introduction of pesticides and fertilizers results in excess algae and fish kills.
Test the soil to see what amendments are needed, and apply the prescribed amount. Only spot treat with pesticides.
3. Pet waste: This pollutant enters stormwater systems when left on the ground and results in harmful bacteria, nutrients, parasites, and viruses depositing in our streams and rivers.
- Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in the toilet or in the garbage.
4. Yard Waste: This pollutant includes grass clippings, tree trimmings, and leaves, and causes blockage of stormwater systems.
- Compost and use as fertilizer around the yard.
5. Litter and debris: This pollutant includes material such as Styrofoam, plastic, cigarette butts, and paper, which will cause clogged stormwater systems and debris in our rivers and streams.
- Keep lids on trash cans and do not litter.
6. Soil Erosion: This pollutant enters the water at any disturbed area such as construction sites or agricultural operations and causes sedimentation. Turbid water and sedimentation result in reduced fish reproduction,and migration, and destruction of habitat for bottom-dwelling organisms. Also, oil, grease and other contaminants attach to soil particles and results in additional contamination to aquatic organisms and their habitat.
- Preserve existing vegetation as much as possible. Install perimeter erosion and sediment control measures such as silt fence and inlet protection, before disturbing the site.
7. Wash water from concrete trucks: This pollutant enters the stormwater system whenever concrete trucks are washed out in an unapproved location. In liquid form, the wash is very acidic and will result in groundwater contamination.
- Concrete wash out should be disposed of on site in the contained area that is built per Maryland standards and specifications.
For more information, please visit 10 easy ways you can contribute to the county's stormwater management program.