Storm drains maintain stormwater runoff
Storm drains are a common sight; they can be found all along City streets, and in commercial parking lots. Storm drains help maintain stormwater runoff by redirecting it from streets and parking lots into nearby bodies of water and, in some cases, back into the groundwater system. This process is essential to flood prevention in urban areas because of the high amounts of impervious surfaces, like asphalt roads and sidewalks. With all of this flowing water come contaminants as well. Because stormwater flows down through streets, lawns, and roofs, pollutants such as motor oil and pet waste make their way into these water systems as well.
Prevent spills and dumping
Pollution also makes its way through storm drains because of deliberate dumping. The misconception that whatever goes into a storm drain eventually finds its way to a water filtration/treatment plant is a notion that may encourage toxin dumping. The public should be aware, however, that there is no interceptor between the water that spills down storm drains and its final destination. When toxins find their way down storm drains, they will eventually end up affecting the ecosystem; everything from wildlife, to the drinking water supplied to the City is eventually touched by this contamination.
We also see damage to ecosystems when high volumes of water – contaminant free or not – are fed down storm drains. Runoff from winter storms can smother salmon eggs because of the high volume of water being drained. These high volumes of runoff can also damage salmon habitats in their drainage process.
It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that the water making its way down our storm drains is manageable, and won’t harm the environment.