STORM WATER POLLUTION
Pollution Control Efforts
The responsibility for cleaning and maintaining the storm drain system throughout Indiana is shared by government AND EVERY CITIZEN living within their respective jurisdictions. The City of Washington must begin to develop work plans and budgets to maintain the system.
What is Storm Water Pollution?
Most of our rainwater travels through gutters, storm drains, channels, ditches and eventually into the source of drinking water, the White River.
The largest source of storm water pollution in Southern Indiana results from every day activities. The most common pollutants are:
Trash and rubbish (fast-food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic beverage bottles, cigarette butts, styrofoam cups, grass clippings, dirt, sand, rock, etc.)
Toxins (used motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizer, pesticides, sewage overflow, pet droppings, etc.)
These pollutants are picked up as water (from rain, hoses, sprinklers, etc.) drains from streets, parking lots, and lawns and enters the many catch basins throughout Washington and Southern Indiana. From there, this "toxic soup" flows untreated through a massive system of pipes and open channels straight to the White River.
Basically, anything dumped or dropped on the ground or in the gutter contributes to storm water pollution.
Is Storm Water Treated Before Entering the White River?
NO. During a storm event, water runoff is carried by the storm sewers directly into the White River. Contaminated storm water receives no treatment because of the sheer volume of runoff from the area encompassing the City of Washington. The cost of treating Washington's storm water would be so high that it would exceed available resources.
Is There a Difference Between a Storm Sewer and a Sanitary Sewer?
YES. The sanitary sewer and the storm sewer are two completely separate drainage systems.
The sanitary system takes all household wastewater from toilets, showers and sinks, and routes it through your plumbing system into the wastewater collection system where it is transported to the Washington Wastewater Treatment Facility. Once there, it receives 3 levels of filtration treatment before being discharged into the White River.
The storm water system, on the other hand, was intended to route rainwater quickly off the streets during a heavy storm, but unfortunately takes all urban runoff along with it. Chemicals, trash and debris from lawns, parking lots and streets, either intentionally or accidentally spilled, goes straight into the river.
Illegal dumping in the streets and in the storm drain system is one of the largest contributors to water pollution in the country. The exposed open flood control channels are often easy targets for illegal dumping and convenient trash disposal.
Soiled diapers, shopping carts, yard waste, antifreeze, cleaning solvents, soapy water, and used oil containers are just some of the many items tossed into open channels. When it rains, water runoff will carry these items through the storm system and eventually make its way into the river.
What are the Effects of Storm Water Pollution?
HEALTH: Storm Water pollution can pose a serious health risk to people due to pesticides, bacteria, and chemicals that are washed from our city streets and into the storm water.
ENVIRONMENT: Countless marine plants and animals living in the White River may become sick or die from contact with storm water pollution.
NEIGHBORHOODS: Clogged catch basins significantly decrease the quality of life in many neighborhoods throughout Southern Indiana. These "nests" of trash and debris can attract rats and cockroaches, create foul odors, and clog the storm drain system affecting neighborhood aesthetics and property values, and may cause local flooding.