Bay 101: Monitoring and Modeling the Chesapeake Bay – Click the picture
Go to WWW.LCCWC.COM and pick 5 actions to improve our water quality. A clean bay starts in your backyard!
Since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, the quality of our nation’s water has improved dramatically. However, in order to better manage the impacts of storm water runoff from municipal separate systems, the Storm Water Management Act was developed in two phases. The first phase addresses medium and large municipal separate storm sewer systems that serve populations over 100,000 and regulates ten categories of industrial activity and large construction projects. The second phase of the act expands on the first by requiring operators of small urbanized MS4s and/or small construction sites to implement practices and programs to control storm water pollution.
Storm water discharges from urban MS4s are a major concern because they tend to carry a higher concentration of pollutants than rural or suburban discharges. The concentrated development in urban areas substantially increases impervious surfaces, allowing pollutants from various human activities to accumulate on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. Once accumulated, these pollutants can be easily washed into nearby storm drains where they can significantly impair local water quality. Some of the most common pollutants include: pesticides, fertilizers, oils, salt, litter, organic debris, and sediment. If improperly handled, these discharges may result in fish kills, destruction of wildlife habitats, reduced aesthetic appeal, and contamination of drinking water supplies and recreational waterways.
For additional information, please review the following publications:
Managing Urban Runoff
What is an illicit discharge?
Illicit discharge is defined as “…any discharge to an MS4 that is not composed entirely of storm water…” Storm water systems are not designed to accept, process, or discharge non-storm water wastes such as: sanitary wastewater, effluent from septic tanks, improper oil disposal, car wash waste water, automobile spills, etc.
Illicit discharges can enter MS4s directly through sewage pipes, shop drains, or other kind of pipes that are improperly connected. Three primary illicit connections are sewage cross-connections, straight pipe, and industrial/commercial cross-connections. These direct entries usually produce a continuous or intermittent discharge during dry weather. Indirect discharges are flows that are generated outside the storm drain system, but enter the system through inlets or by infiltrating pipe joints. Indirect discharges include: spills, groundwater seepage, liquids dumped into inlets, outdoor washing activities, and non-target irrigation from landscaping. Generally, indirect modes of entry produce intermittent or transitory discharges.
How is Columbia getting involved?
Columbia Borough is working to identify and eliminate illicit discharges within its municipal boundaries. In July of 2005, Columbia Borough purchased water kits to collect and test illicit flows. We are in the process of creating a comprehensive map to identify all inlets, outlets, and pipe passageways in our storm sewer system. Once completed, this map will be used to guide all of our water testing, monitoring, and rehabilitation efforts.
Residents are strongly encouraged to participate in this identification process by reporting dry weather flows to the Public Service Department. If you see water flowing through an inlet or exiting an outfall during a period when rainfall has been scarce, report the location of the flow using an IDD & E form, and a trained borough employee will conduct the proper tests to determine the nature of the flow. Once completed, simply return the form to the Borough office (308 Locust Street, Columbia Pa).
We truly value your support and participation in dealing with this important issue. Remember, clean water is everybody’s business and together, we can improve the quality of our water and help save the Susquehanna River!