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What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is rain and snow melt that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots. As water runs off these surfaces, it can pick up pollution such as: oil, fertilizers, pesticides, soil, trash, and animal waste. From here, the water might flow directly into a local stream, bay, or lake. Or, it may go into a storm drain and continue through storm pipes until it is released untreated into a local waterway.
In addition, the large impervious surfaces in urban areas increase the quantity of peak flows of runoff, which in turn cause hydrologic impacts such as scoured streambeds channels, instream sedimentation and loss of habitat. Furthermore, because of the volume of runoff discharges, mass loads of pollutants in stormwater can be significant.
Health: In general, untreated stormwater is unsafe. It can
contain toxic metals, organic compounds, bacteria, and viruses.
Untreated stormwater is not safe for people to drink and is not
recommended for swimming. Polluted stormwater can lead to beach
closures for swimming and shellfish harvesting. It can also
trigger toxic algal blooms.
Water: In some areas of Washington, notably Spokane County, and
parts of Pierce and Clark counties, gravelly soils allow rapid
infiltration of stormwater. Untreated stormwater discharging to
the ground could contaminate aquifers that are used for drinking
Water Quality: Virtually all of our urban creeks, streams, and
rivers are harmed by stormwater pollution. Stormwater is the
leading contributor to water quality pollution of urban
waterways in Washington.
Habitat: In Washington, urban stormwater harms and pollutes
streams that provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Alterations
to the watershed, such as building homes and other structures
and clearing away trees and shrubs, are the leading causes for
stormwater pollution. Federal agencies identified habitat loss
from stormwater runoff as one of the primary obstacles to salmon
recovery. (See more about
regulating flows to protect habitat.)
>> Learn more about what you can do to prevent polluted runoff from Ecology's clean water campaign, Washington Waters - Ours To Protect.
Construction, Industrial, and Municipal permits.
WQWebPortal is the one stop site for all electronic water quality permit submissions.
What you can do to reduce polluted runoff.
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