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Stormwater is produced from excess rain, sleet or snow that is not soaked into the ground after a precipitation event. The stormwater runs off properties taking with it soil and any chemicals or materials already on the ground or hardscape. The run-off is then conveyed to the roadways, curbs, ditches or storm drains, and ultimately discharged into the local bodies of water such as lakes, streams and rivers. In the long run, ground water is impacted which affects water quality. Proper stormwater management helps to protect our drinking water. Here are some tips that prevent pollution of stormwater:

Stormwater Care Tips:

  • Don't dump ANYTHING down the storm drains. Oils, chemicals, soaps, and other compounds pollute our streams and lakes.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and always follow the label’s instructions.
  • Don't stuff storm drains with trash. Put litter in its place (trash cans or recycling bins).
  • Pick up after your pet. Pet waste can pollute stormwater.
  • Sweep driveways (don't spray wash) and dispose of the sweepings properly.
  • Collect yard waste and keep it out of the storm drains. Compost when possible. Grass clippings and excess leaves do not belong in our streams and rivers.
  • Use a commercial car wash (it treats and recycles wash water), or wash vehicles on grassy areas.
  • Recycle used motor oil. Most auto parts retailers accept used motor oil for recycling. The Memphis and Shelby County Household Hazard Waste facility is a good alternative to properly dispose of motor oil and other wastes.
  • Check your car for leaks (and fix them) in order to prevent run-off into the stormwater drains.
  • If you own a septic tank, make sure it is inspected every 3 - 5 years by local septic tank companies to insure proper operation. This will prevent wastes from leaching into the ground water.
  • Plant grass seed or sod in areas on your property where erosion can easily occur such as in bald spots, along fence lines, adjacent to drive ways, near or beneath gutter downspouts, etc.
  • If completing a renovation project that requires excavating dirt use silt fences or hay bales to prevent soil erosion.

Site Developers can contact the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in order to obtain a copy of their Stormwater Planning and Design Manual for Construction Activities. This handbook provides standardized and comprehensive best management practices that protect stormwater and ultimately, Tennessee’s water bodies. The handbook also serves as the primary reference for the development and implementation of Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP), as required per the Tennessee General NPDES Permit.

Local authorities may also have stormwater management programs with additional requirements. Developers need to contact their city’s Public Works department to obtain further guidance.

For more information about stormwater pollution prevention, visit the Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation web sites.