Stormwater and the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
STORMWATER AND YOU
Most people think of stormwater runoff as strictly a flooding problem than occurs after a significant rainstorm. Stormwater runoff is the leading cause of water quality degradation in our waterways.
WHAT IS NPDES?
As authorized by the Clean Water Act of 1972, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants (illicit discharges) into waters of the United States. The NPDES program is an unfunded federal mandate that requires the City of St. Cloud to maintain the public drainage system, provide public education, monitor construction sites and train our staff to help reduce the amount of pollutants entering the City of St. Cloud’s drainage system. If you have any questions about the City of St. Cloud's NPDES program, please call the Public Works Department at 407-957-7347.
The City of St. Cloud and the Osceola County Extension Services have teamed up to provide the public education portion of the NPDES program. The Osceola County Extension Services can be reached at 321-697-3000.
WHAT IS ILLEGAL DUMPING?
Land Development Code 24-164 defines and prohibits illicit discharges (illegal dumping) into any stormwater systems. Illegal dumping of pollutants (such as oil, gas, lawn clippings, pet waste, etc.) into stormwater inlets, swales, ditches, curbs, ponds, or lakes will result in a fine and require the illicit discharge to be cleaned up. To report illegal dumping please call the Public Works Department at 407-957-7347. To legally dispose of these pollutants, please call the St. Cloud Solid Waste Division at 407-957-7289.
WHY DO WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT STORMWATER?
Flooding - When excess water has nowhere to go, flooding can impact property and cause damage to land and structures. Flooding can also be a public safety issue that affects entire communities.
Pollution and Health Impacts - Stormwater picks up anything that is on the ground and carries it along with it. Animal waste, chemicals, pesticides, oil, and sediment – all end up in waterways and potentially in our sources of drinking water.
Erosion - Uncontrolled stormwater can cause erosion, leaving bare soil and exposing tree roots. This can lead to property damage and cause issues with ground stability.
Sedimentation - Erosion and runoff, can also lead to sedimentation. Sedimentation of waterways from runoff causes changes to aquatic habitats. Undesirable plant growth increases, water becomes more turbid or cloudy, which leads to disruption of aquatic ecosystems. Sedimentation also fills in waterways, which can increase the flooding potential. Impacts to Groundwater Recharge - If stormwater isn't sinking into the ground it can affect recharge of groundwater resources. This can affect water levels in drinking water wells as well as impacting levels in surface water.
Impacts to Recreational Opportunities - Stormwater runoff can cause polluted waterways which can lead to restrictions on boating, swimming, and fishing in recreational areas.
WHERE DO STORMWATER POLLUTANTS COME FROM?
There are a variety of contaminants that can easily pollute our stormwater. Rain picks up oil and grit left on the roads; sprinklers wash pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers from our gardens and lawns; washing the car carries detergents, oils and grease from the driveway and into our waterways.
Motor Oil - Four quarts of motor oil can create an 8 acre oil slick and contaminate a million gallons of drinking water.
Antifreeze - Antifreeze is a toxic pollutant that can kill not only aquatic life but also pets when they drink from contaminated puddles. Pesticides - The use of harmful chemicals on your lawn can be reduced with proper mowing, fertilizing and watering.
Animal Waste - Pet and other animal waste is raw sewage that releases bacteria and oxygen-consuming materials into our waterways. Pet owners should always “scoop the poop”.
Soaps & Detergents - Detergents are pollutants that contain phosphorus which contributes to algae blooms. Algae blooms deplete waterways of oxygen and can cause fish kills.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT OUR LAKES, CREEKS, AND DITCHES:
Recycle yard debris instead of dumping it near or in streams, swales, ditches, and roads.
Put litter in trash cans where is belongs. Recycle used motor oil and antifreeze.
When washing your car at home, use nonphosphorus soaps and direct soap suds onto the lawn instead of storm drains and/or your driveway.
Be careful not to destroy stream or ditch banks; it can cause soil to wash away.
Keep livestock and pets from destroying our creek banks and using the stream as a toilet.
WHAT IS GROUND WATER?
The water that is found underground is called ground water. The aquifer systems under Florida provide the majority of the state’s water. There are two major aquifers in Florida: the Floridan (the whole state), and the Biscayne (south Florida). The Floridan aquifer is the largest and deepest in the state.
Groundwater is the water that fills cracks and other openings in beds of rocks and sand. Each drop of rain that soaks into the soils moves downward to the water table, which is the water level in the groundwater reservoir. Groundwater does not normally occur in underground streams, lakes, or veins. Groundwater is found in soils and sands able to retain the water — much like a sponge holds water.
Ground water protection is crucial to Florida. High rainfall and the state’s unique geology, a thin, permeable soil cover, high water table, porous limestone formations, and the high potential for salt water intrusion makes our ground water extremely vulnerable to contamination. The threats to ground water can come from many sources, both natural and manmade. Natural sources can change the quality of our ground water through severe weather, droughts and contamination that enters through sinkholes. Unfortunately, human activity is the main contributor to ground water contamination.
Several threats to our ground water include, but are not limited to:
Stormwater Runoff Pesticides and Fertilizers
Failing Septic Tanks
Failing Underground Storage Tanks
Failing or unlined Landfills
Accidents and Illegal Dumping