The City of Washington, Indiana

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Pollution

Storm Water Runoff and Pollution

  • Storm water runoff is the rain and snow melt that runs off streets, rooftops, parking lots, and other land surfaces. Storm water runoff is not clean water! Many everyday activities around our homes have the potential to contribute to polluted storm water runoff. As it flows across various land surfaces, storm water runoff picks up pollutants such as soil, trash/litter, pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, grass clippings and leaves, pet waste, road salt, oil, automotive fluids and other toxic chemicals from leaks and spills. This runoff then flows into storm drains, entering our storm sewer system. Washington has two types of storm water collection systems: combined sewers which carry both sewage and storm water; and municipal separate storm sewer systems (called MS4s), which carry storm water only.

    The Problem…

    Combined sewage is treated by the Washington Waste Water Treatment Facility. However, during a heavy rain, the capacity of our treatment facility can be exceeded, causing untreated sewage and storm water to overflow into the White River. MS4s do not lead to our waste water treatment facility, but empty directly into local streams such as Hawkins Creek and Veale Creek. The pollutants carried by storm water runoff can contaminate local streams and rivers, in turn affecting human health and the environment in a negative way. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that polluted storm water runoff is responsible for more than half of the water pollution in our nation.

    Effects of Storm Water Pollution

    Polluted storm water runoff entering our local streams and rivers can have lasting health, environmental and economic impacts on our community.

    Health: Storm water pollution can pose a serious health risk to people due to pesticides, chemicals and bacteria that move through our storm water system, emptying into the White River – the source of our drinking water. Water treatment may become more difficult and expensive as time goes by due to the increase in types and volume of pollutants entering the White River.

    Environment: Fish, other aquatic organisms and plants living in the White River may become sick or die from contact with polluted storm water runoff. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) lists the White River as an impaired waterway, which means that fish living in the river may be contaminated and unsafe to eat.

    Community: Trash, leaves and grass clippings discarded in our streets can quickly clog storm drain grates and catch basins during a rain event. These ‘nests’ of trash and debris can cause local flooding, and if not cleaned up, can cause foul odors, attract rodents and cockroaches – affecting neighborhood aesthetics and property values.

    Over time, the detrimental effects of polluted storm water will add up – discouraging recreational use of our beautiful local water resources, contaminating our drinking water supplies, and impacting habitat for fish, aquatic organisms and wildlife.

Contact Us

Storm Water Department
169 S 200 W
Washington, IN 47501
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