Stormwater is a component of the overall water cycle: precipitation falls to earth, some of which is absorbed into the ground and some of which makes its way into streams and rivers, and eventually to oceans. In a natural environment, stormwater will soak into soils and soft surfaces, and some also runs into area streams. However, in our urban setting, a greater amount of stormwater runs off rooftops, sidewalks, parking lots, asphalt and other such impervious surfaces, and then goes into the storm drain system, and eventually into area waterways. Stormwater is rainwater, snowmelt, or even water from a garden hose or car wash that runs off of a surface (like driveways, parking lots, or rooftops) and goes into a gutter, ditch, or roadside drain, and ultimately into the storm drain system. In our area, stormwater does not go to a treatment plant, so any pollutants carried in the stormwater are discharged into waterways and the environment
A storm drain system is a network of constructed inlets, underground pipes, drainage channels, and other structures that carry and temporarily hold stormwater to be discharged into streams and waterways. A storm drain system’s main role is flood control. Flooding does not always indicate a problem with the storm drain system. In many areas, streets, greenbelts, parks, and other areas are used to convey or store stormwater. Even during periods of drought, we can experience flooding after heavy rains. One of the areas prone to flooding in the Grand Valley is Bosley Wash between Clifton and Palisade. Floodwaters have made Highway 6 between Clifton and Palisade impassable in the past and has flooded homes and farmlands. Studies have been performed on this area for the purpose of alleviating these problems. There are 28 major washes in the Grand Valley to be studied with corrective action to be taken.
When stormwater moves across a surface, it can pick up motor oils, fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, dirt, grass clippings, leaves, and trash. That material remains untreated, going from the storm drain system into the streams and can harm aquatic life and the environment. These pollutants can clog storm drains, cause flooding, create safety hazards and property damage, and can result in inconvenience and delays to motorists. Stormwater runoff is not cleaned at a treatment plant, but instead goes directly into area waterways. Therefore, stormwater management strives to control pollution that could be picked up in runoff. Increasingly stringent federal environmental regulations for stormwater quality, an outgrowth of the Clean Water Act, mean that local communities must undertake additional actions to control and monitor pollution to stormwater. These federal regulations administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are known as NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) for MS4s (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems). The regulations require that owners of municipal stormwater systems abide by a permit (NPDES Phase II Permit) that requires stormwater control actions and programs to control pollutants from entering stormwater. Stormwater programs include activities such as detecting and eliminating illicit stormwater discharges, managing construction and post‐ construction stormwater runoff, preventing stormwater pollution from municipal activities, and educating and involving the public in stormwater activities. In Colorado, the NPDES permit is issued through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Phase I of the federal government’s NPDES program required large cities with populations of more than 100,000 to monitor the quality of stormwater runoff. Phase II requires moderately sized municipalities, including the City of Grand Junction, the Town of Palisade, unincorporated Mesa County, and the Grand Valley Drainage District to also meet these new regulations. Both of these phases are currently being enforced. If these requirements are not met, environmental fines on local governments and special stormwater districts can be issued. Therefore, local communities must deal with the unfunded federal mandates and bear the costs for stormwater quality control. The State (CDPHE) and the EPA are expected to step up enforcement efforts in 2008. Fines for non‐compliance will be as high as $10,000 per day for civil violations.
Prevent Pollution to Area Waterways: Don’t Dump Down Road Drains Soaps, solvents, oil, trash, sand, yard clippings or other material should not enter road drains or drainage ditches. Pollutants that flow through storm drains go directly into streams and waterways without being treated or purified. This pollution impacts aquatic life, wildlife, and people who recreate and fish. Please do your part to keep our waterways clean: properly dispose of or recycle your household and yard waste, and participate in our community household hazardous waste pick-up programs. If you see or experience a problem with stormwater, such as areas that flood, or the results of pollutants going into the storm drain system, please alert us. Please call our Hotline at (970) 263-8201. Our offices are located at 250 N. 5th Street, Grand Junction, Colorado.
Illegal dumping and illicit discharges like trash, grass clippings, fertilizer, pet waste, paint products, motor oil, and other chemicals can be picked up by rainwater flow and are deposited into the storm drain system. Illegal dumping is against the law! What You Should Do if You See Illegal Dumping or an Illicit Discharge… Illegal dumping and illicit discharges are a major cause of stormwater pollution. Public witness complaints provide the most common source of information. For questions pertaining to illicit discharges or to report illegaldumping, please call 970-263-8201. When a complaint is received, 5-2-1 Drainage Authority will investigate the claim, notify the violator for correction or possible prosecution. Federal, state, and local laws prohibit the discharge of certain non-stormwater to the storm drain system. The purpose of these regulations is to protect the quality of the nation’s surface water resources by minimizing contamination associated with urban activities. Recognizing Illegal Dumping or Illicit Discharges Indications of Possible Illegal Dumping or Illicit Discharges Unusual color or cloudiness Algae Strong pungent or musty odor Dead vegetation or inhibited growth Floating debris Pipe corrosion Surface scum or foam Stains on channel bottom or sides Oil sheen Dead animals
Unauthorized use of storm water system (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge or cause to be discharged into the storm drainage system of the City any polluting material or any other material which is not composed entirely of storm water, except for items listed in Subsection (c) of this section. (b) It shall be a complete defense to the application of this section that such discharge was made pursuant to a national pollutant discharge elimination system storm water discharge permit or resulted from firefighting activities. (c) Except insofar as such may be identified by the City as sources of polluting materials, this section shall not apply to the following categories of non-storm water discharges: Allowable Discharges (1) Water line and fire hydrant flushing; (2) Landscape irrigation; (3) Rising groundwaters; (4) Uncontaminated groundwater infiltration into the storm drainage system; (5) Uncontaminated pumped groundwater; (6) Discharges from potable water sources; (7) Foundation drains; (8) Air conditioning condensation; (9) Springs; (10) Individual residential car washing; (11) Flows from riparian habitats and wetlands; (12) Dechlorinated swimming pool discharges; and (13) Discharges from roof drains. Prohibited Discharges Commercial Pressure washing Industrial process water Commercial car wash wastewater Sanitary sewer flows Wash-down of loading areas Chlorinated pool water Automobile fluids Dumping of liquid waste Water softener brine backwash Carpet cleaning wastewater Paint and paint products
Power washing, also known as pressure washing, is the process of using water under pressure of 2,000 pounds or more to clean surfaces such as sidewalks, automobiles and cars, houses, restaurant equipment, and more. The federal Clean Water Act identifies waste water that is created after using a power washer as “process” water if it contains mud, detergents, grease and oil. This water cannot be washed directly into the street or gutter, where it ends up in the storm drains and goes directly into the Colorado River without being treated. The water must instead be contained and disposed of properly. The State of Colorado has issued regulations on the proper disposal of power washing process water. That document is available at http://bit.ly/wa6WTT. Companies and individuals need to know the regulations for disposing of process water. The City of Grand Junction’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Ordinance went into effect on January 1, 2006, and our ordinance follows the state guidelines for power washing. Violating the City’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Ordinance can result in fines of up to $1,000 per violation per day, and up to one year in jail.