Why does Stormwater run-off need to be controlled?

If you live or often spend time near a waterway, you are probably familiar with what happens after a rain event. Polluted run-off emptying into clean water is often discolored from sediment and/or plagued with litter. You may be advised not to swim or fish for a couple of days following a rain event because of the poor water quality.

Common pollutants associated with urban stormwater run-off include pesticides, fertilizers, oils, salt, litter, and sediment. These contaminants are, in many instances, transported directly from the storm sewer system into our waterbodies.  These pollutants can destroy wildlife, cause the destruction of spawning habitats, reduce the aesthetic value of a stream corridor, wetland or pond, and limit recreational uses of our waterways.

If a waterbody exhibits significant signs of pollution, the NYSDEC may list it as “
impaired“, which means it has identified the pollutant(s) of concern and the suspected source. Pollutants of concern can vary from elevated nutrient loading (phosphorus and nitrogen), pathogens, silt/sediment, or chemical toxicity with pollutant sources ranging from urban stormwater run-off, excessive stream bank erosion, agriculture activities, or poorly functioning wastewater treatment systems (septic systems or cross-connected sanitary sewer systems).