Stormwater runoff is defined as the precipitation from rain or snowmelt that flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, rooftops, and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground, according to the EPA. This precipitation can pick up harmful pollutants from these surfaces like oil or grease from a car, pesticides, pet wastes, and fertilizer to name a few. The runoff can flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. This is important because it affects humans, wildlife, and vegetation that come into contact with the contaminated water. The sediment in the runoff can cloud the body of water which makes it difficult for aquatic plants to grow, and can sometimes completely destroy aquatic habitats. It can cause harmful bacteria to grow which makes it unsafe for swimming. Also, non-biodegradable items, such as: plastic bags, six-pack rings and cigarette butts are often picked up in the runoff, adding to the pollution problem.
There are several things we can do to prevent stormwater runoff from polluting our water supply. The EPA asks that you dispose of your pesticides, paint, and auto fluids properly, and not pour them down into the drain. Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly, pick up after your pets, and don’t over water your lawn, this will just add more to the runoff. Also, many groups and individuals have installed rain gardens, which are plots of native plants that help soak up the rain instead of letting it flow into the sewer. You can also install permeable pavement or put out mosquito-proof rain barrels to catch the runoff from your roof.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) says that commercial runoff needs to be regulated. Compliance differs across sectors, so check on the EPA’s website to see what testing is required of your business here: Regulatory Information by Sector. Armstrong Forensic Laboratory can assist you with your stormwater runoff testing. We also provide convenient insulated runoff sample collection kits that come with pre-printed shipping labels for an easy return. Check the Stormwater Analysis tab under Services on our main page and you can find a list of tests our lab is capable of performing. Call us at 800-644-4175 or 817-275-2691 for a free quote, or you can simply fill out the form online!
Here are a few links to articles on stormwater runoff: