What is stormwater?
Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that doesn't soak into the ground but runs off into waterways. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas and bare soil, and through sloped lawns while picking up a variety of materials on its way. The quality of runoff is affected by a variety of factors and depends on the season, local meteorology, geography and upon activities which lie in the path of the flow.
What's the problem?
As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports pollutants to surface waters. Although the amount of pollutants from a single residential, commercial, industrial or construction site may seem unimportant, the combined concentrations of contaminants threaten our lakes, rivers, wetlands and other water bodies. Pollution conveyed by stormwater degrades the quality of drinking water, damages fisheries and habitat of plants and animals that depend on clean water for survival. Pollutants carried by stormwater can also affect recreational uses of water bodies by making them unsafe for wading, swimming, boating and fishing. According to an inventory conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), half of the impaired waterways are affected by urban/suburban and construction sources of stormwater runoff.
What can be done?
Significant improvements have been achieved in controlling pollutants that are discharged from sewage and wastewater treatment plants. Across the nation, attention is being shifted to sources of pollution, such as stormwater runoff, that are not normally treated by wastewater treatment plants. Stormwater management, especially in urban areas, is becoming a necessary step in seeking further reductions in pollution in our waterways.
The best way to control contamination to stormwater is usually at the source, where the contaminants can be identified, reduced or contained before being conveyed to surface water. More often than not, it's more expensive and difficult to remove the combination of contaminants that are present at the end-of-pipe where stormwater is finally discharged directly to a receiving waterbody. Sometimes, significant improvements can be made by employing best management practices, or "BMPs". Proper storage of chemicals, good housekeeping and just plain paying attention to what's happening during runoff events can lead to relatively inexpensive ways of preventing pollutants from getting into the runoff in the first place and then our waterways.
What is the Town doing?
The Town is required to hold a permit for stormwater that discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s). Therefore, we have a Stormwater Management Program and submit annual reports to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.