If you live in California, you’re used to doing the rain dance. When we finally see some precipitation, the standard greeting shifts from “How are you?” to “Did you see it’s raining? We need it!”
Luckily, most of this storm/rainwater gets absorbed by the soil and plants. But with increasing construction and development, storm water has fewer places to go. What happens with all this excess water?
Like the Chef Boyardee can, it flows across the land until it eventually reaches gutters and sewers. It then makes its way into the nearest body of water (whether that’s a river, lake, or ocean).
This might sound harmless, but storm water runoff actually poses a major threat to the environment and public health. This runoff water picks up and carries with it numerous pollutants, including:
- Trash and debris
- Bacteria from pet wastes
- Sediment from construction sites
The impacts of storm water runoff are not trivial. Even a small amount of pollution in a body of water can cause great damage.
- Flooding. The obvious impacts of floods are that they cause damage to public and private property. They can lead to property loss, injury, and even drowning. But they can also overwhelm the delicate balance of an ecosystem, harming or killing animals.
- Impacts on wildlife and aquatic life. Trash and debris carried in from storm water runoff can choke or suffocate wildlife. Oils or bleach can likewise kill aquatic life and wildlife.
- Aesthetics. Dirty water, trash and debris, and foul odors can be an eyesore for residential and commercial areas.
- Economic impacts. Communities relying on water resources for business or recreation are vulnerable if poor water quality results in bans on swimming, fishing, and boating.
- Threats to public health. Polluted water contaminates the water we drink and the fish we eat. Human and animal waste specifically adds bacteria and pathogens to storm water that can cause illness and public health issues.
- Threats to public safety. Injury and drownings can occur in flood waters.
What’s the solution to storm water runoff?
Storm water management is a complex issue. In fact, many of us are contributors without even knowing it. Any form of litter that ends up on the ground can lead to negative effects associated with storm water runoff.
California is strict about regulating storm water runoff in industrial, municipal, and residential areas. If you’re a property owner whose project disturbs more than one acre of land, California law has certain rules and regulations you must follow to limit stormwater runoff. This is good because it keeps harmful pollutants from entering our waterways. But it also means you have to take great care to keep your site in compliance during and post-construction.
SWIMS is dedicated to keeping your storm water system functioning properly so we can protect the health of our waterways and, ultimately, our communities. Schedule your free inspection here.