WHAT IS ILLICIT STORM WATER RUNOFF?
Illicit storm water runoff is simply the release of non-storm water to the storm water drainage system. Examples include untreated sewage, industrial waste, improperly disposed oil or gasoline, and fertilizers discharged into a storm water drainage system that then drains to a stream, river, or lake resulting in high levels of pollutants such as heavy metals, oils, grease, solvents, and bacteria.
WAYS TO REDUCE ILLICIT STORM WATER RUNOFF
Keep leaves, litter, and debris out of the street, gutter and storm drains. Storm drains outlet directly into streams and rivers. This means the water is essentially untreated. Whatever is in the gutters washes directly into our wetlands and is a source of pollution. Instead, bag your leaves and take them to a compost site.
Grass clippings contain valuable nutrients that provide up to 25% of your lawn’s fertilizer needs. Grass clippings should be either left on the lawn or bagged, not left in the gutter or any other hard surface. Mulching your grass reduces the need for fertilizer because the nutrients are released back into your lawn as the grass clippings break down. Leaving the grass clippings on your lawn all summer is equal to one application of fertilizer per year. And the less fertilizer applied to your lawn translates into a reduction of fertilizer runoff reaching our wetlands.
Over watering your lawn can do more harm than good. Excess watering promotes runoff which transports grass clippings, leaves, fertilizer and other “pollutants” from lawns, sidewalks, and driveways ultimately carrying them into the water system.
Fertilizing should be completed with a phosphorus-free fertilizer. Verify the middle number on the fertilizer bag is a zero (ie. 18-0-12). Keep all fertilizer off of the pavement and gutters by sweeping it back onto the lawn where it can be of a benefit.
Complete all landscaping projects prior to the year end frost. Bare soil that is exposed to the erosive forces of rain can run off into ditches, gutters, and ultimately into streams and rivers. However, all turf that cannot be established in time should contain an erosion control measure such as silt fence, wood fiber blanket, filter logs, compost burms, or mulch in order to minimize spring runoff.
Do not use toxic pesticides, motor oil, gasoline, or kerosene on your lawn to remove weeds. Try removing weeds by hand or use a handheld tool to assist you.
Complete the landscaping projects using hardy plants that are relatively pest-free and suited to your site to reduce the need for chemical upkeep.
Pick up pet waste and dispose of it in the trash.
Spot treat weeds and only apply herbicides when needed. Don’t kill unwanted weeds or vegetation with motor oil, gasoline, or kerosene.
Make sure your septic system is working properly.
Properly discharge chlorine from swimming pools through your sanitary sewer system and not your storm sewer system so the water can be treated prior to re-entering the natural water system.
Properly dispose of any unwanted materials from your garage. Take all unwanted paints, solvents, cleaners, engine oil and pesticides to a Household Hazardous Waste Turn-In site. Under no circumstance should they be dumped down the storm sewer.
Use asphalt based seal coating products when sealing your blacktop driveway. Studies have suggested coal tar based sealants produce harmful Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination that may be linked to deformities in aquatic animals when exposed to high levels.
Repair engine leaks. Contain vehicle leaks by using drip pans, kitty litter, or sawdust.
Wash your car either using a bucket with biodegradable and phosphorus free soap or at a commercial car wash where the excess goes down the sanitary sewer where it is treated.
For many communities, rain gardens are a great new way to capture and treat rainwater. However, the City of Hastings has unique sub-grade geological characteristics that may not be conducive for this type of application. According to the City’s Well Head Protection Plan, drinking water quality could be compromised given an increased amount of infiltration. Please contact the City of Hastings prior to designing and implementing a rain garden. For acceptable inquiries, Dakota County recently initiated a program called Blue Thumb that is designed to make it easy for residents to plan, purchase, and install rain gardens. Design aids and further information can be found at the Blue Thumb link above.
Rain barrels are a simple and effective device homeowners can install on their property to reduce their impact of illicit discharges. Rain barrels are installed at the end of downspouts leading from rooftop gutters. When it rains, they collect the water that lands on the roof and store it for later use on flower gardens, landscaping, or lawns. By temporarily storing water and directing it to areas where it will soak into the ground, rain barrels can reduce the amount of contaminates reaching nearby ponds and wetlands.
WHERE DO I REPORT AN ILLICIT DISCHARGE?
If you notice that a hazardous waste was not disposed of properly and is in the storm water conveyance system, please contact:
Emergency - If there is an immediate threat to life or property, call 911 first...otherwise:
- City of Hastings Duty Phone: 651.248.3271
- MN Dept of Safety Duty Officer: 651.649.5451 or 1.800.422.0798