City corner column: More discussion about storm sewers, dumping
May 2, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.
In a recent column, I mentioned that leaves in the gutters and storm sewers in residential areas can worsen localized flooding during heavy rains. I received several excellent questions about storm drains and storm water.
Q: What is storm water?
A: 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.
Q: Is storm water treated before it flows into our rivers or creeks?
A: 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.
Q: What are the major pollutants in Victoria's storm water?
A: Sediment from exposed ground around construction sites and roadways is the main pollutant in our area. Oil, antifreeze, detergents, pesticides and yard debris are also washed into the storm drains from driveways, backyards, parking lots and streets.
Q: Doesn't rain wash yard trimmings and soil into the creeks and rivers anyway?
A: 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. Large amounts of organic debris can alter the natural balance of our creeks and rivers.
Q: Why isn't storm water treated before it goes into a creek or river?
A: Each storm drain goes to the nearest waterway and is not collected into one location where it can be treated. Preventing pollution at the source is a more effective and much less costly way to prevent storm water pollution.
Q: So I should not put anything into the gutters or storm drains?
A: Right. The Victoria city code prohibits anyone from putting anything into the storm drain system.
Q: What else can I do to keep our storm drains clear and unpolluted?
A: 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.
Q: What can I do if I see someone dumping something into a storm drain?
A: Call 361-485-3186 to report illegal discharges into the storm sewer system.
Send your questions and comments for any city department or activity to City of Victoria, Public Information Office, P.O. Box 1758, Victoria, TX 77902, or firstname.lastname@example.org.