THE PROBLEM: WHAT IS STORMWATER POLLUTION?
Stormwater pollution is urban runoff water that has picked up pollutants as it flows through the storm drain system-a network of channels, gutters and pipes that collect runoff from city streets, neighborhoods, farms, construction sites and parking lots-and empties directly into local waterways.
Unlike sewage, which goes to treatment plants, urban runoff flows untreated through the storm drain system. Anything thrown, swept or poured into the street, gutter or a catch basin-the curbside openings that lead into the storm drain system-can flow directly into our channels, creeks, bays and ocean. This includes pollutants like trash, pet waste, cigarette butts, motor oil, anti-freeze, runoff from pesticides and fertilizers, paint from brushes and containers rinsed in the gutter and toxic household chemicals.
For more information:
The Ocean Begins at Your Front Door
The Answer: Preventing Stormwater Pollution
Everyone in Orange County can help prevent stormwater pollution. It is often caused by everyday behavior that you may not realize contributes to the problem. Simple behavior changes are all it takes to prevent stormwater pollution, if we all do our part. Find out how.
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant to navigable waters from a point source unless the discharge is authorized by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
The 1987 passage of the Water Quality Act established NPDES permit requirements for discharges of stormwater. The NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.
Industrial facilities and construction sites are regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board, through general stormwater permits. Cities and counties are regulated through permits issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Since 1990, operators of large storm drain systems such as Orange County's have been required to:
- Develop a stormwater management program designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being dumped or washed by stormwater runoff,into the stormwater system, then discharged into local waterbodies; and
- Obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
DOCUMENTS AND REPORTS
The permits of each region outline additional steps for a storm water management program and specify requirements to help protect the beneficial uses of the receiving waters. They require permittees to develop and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control/reduce the discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States to the maximum extent practicable (MEP).
Drainage Area Management Plan
The Drainage Area Management Plan (DAMP) describes the Orange County Stormwater Program, implemented by the County of Orange and cities to comply with their jointly held stormwater permit. It is the principal policy and guidance document for the countywide NPDES Stormwater Program.