City Corner: Pollutants in storm drains cause problems for creeks, rivers
By Jennifer Sourdellia
March 2, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated March 1, 2014 at 9:02 p.m.
I recently received some questions about storm water and storm drains and how they are regulated. Please see the questions and responses below.
What is storm water?
Federal law defines storm water as water from rains, snow or ice that flows across the ground and paved surfaces. Storm water that does not seep into the ground will flow down driveways and streets into gutters then into a system of underground pipes known as a storm drain system. This system leads directly to the city's creeks and outfalls and eventually to the Guadalupe River.
Is storm water treated before it flows into our rivers or creeks?
No. Storm water flows through the storm drain system and directly into the Guadalupe River. Because it does not receive any treatment before flowing into the river and it carries any pollutants in the storm drains with it, storm water regulations were established by the federal government to protect the nation's rivers.
What are the major pollutants in Victoria's storm water?
Sediment from construction sites and roadways is the largest pollutant in our area. Chemical-based fertilizers, oil, antifreeze, detergents, pesticides and yard debris are also washed into the storm drains from driveways, backyards, parking lots and streets.
What is the city doing to regulate storm water pollution from construction and industrial pollution?
The city has adopted discharge regulations as required by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for construction, post-construction and industrial activities. This ordnance protects the city's storm sewers from pollutants generated from these types of activities. For more information on storm water, please visit the city's website.
Doesn't rain wash yard trimmings and soil into the creeks and rivers anyway?
In a natural setting, the amount of debris would be limited to the leaves of plants and trees bordering the river. In our urban setting, yard waste, leaves and dirt on paved areas across Victoria are washed into rivers and waterways through the storm sewer. Large amounts of organic debris can alter the natural balance of our creeks and rivers.
So I should not put anything into the gutters or storm drains?
Right. The Victoria city code prohibits anyone from putting anything into the storm drain system.
What else can I do to keep our storm drains clear and unpolluted?
An easy step to protect our storm water system is for all residents to keep the gutters and drains in front of their property clear of leaves, trash, yard waste, oak pollen or other debris.
What can I do if I see someone dumping something into a storm drain?
Call 361-485-3186 to report illegal discharges into the storm sewer system.
Do you have a question about the city of Victoria? Please submit your questions and comments about any city department to Jennifer Sourdellia in the Communications/Public Information Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 1758, Victoria, TX 77902.