What is Stormwater? Stormwater is the runoff resulting from any
rainfall event. Usually, problems with stormwater occur when an intense
precipitation even deposits large amounts of water on the earth in a short
period of time. The ground surface becomes saturated and is not able to absorb
any more water, so the excess becomes surface runoff. Another cause of surface
runoff in urban areas is the abundance of impervious surfaces. Surfaces such as
concrete, asphalt, and building roofs block water from seeping into the ground.
Runoff is often immediately channeled into storm sewers but all runoff
ultimately ends up in streams, rivers, and the ocean.
Does Stormwater Affect Me? Improper treatment of stormwater can affect an
entire city. Groundwater aquifers must be replenished periodically and the
easiest way to do this is to allow stormwater to soak into the ground. If water
cannot soak through the soil due to impervious surfaces, it will run off into
the local streams, rivers, and lakes. Polluted stormwater is not only
unappealing but it is dangerous to fish and plant life that require clean
water. Runoff picks up and carries off many contaminants from impervious
surfaces including litter and debris, pesticides, fertilizers, and even air
pollutants that have fallen out of the air and settled on the ground.
Stormwater runoff can negatively affect local water quality but there are ways
to prevent this problem.