Stormwater Management Tips & FAQ
What watershed do I live in?
The entirety of Montgomery County lies within the Delaware River Basin, meaning all watersheds in Montgomery County eventually drain to the Delaware River. The Delaware River Basin covers 13,500 square miles in parts of four States, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Are sewers and storm drains the same thing?
A sanitary sewer is a system of underground pipes that carries sewage from bathrooms, sinks, kitchens, and other plumbing components to a wastewater treatment plant where it is filtered, treated and discharged. A storm sewer is a system designed to carry rainfall runoff. However, in historical areas, including one or two areas in Montgomery County, combined sewer systems (CSS) exist. A CSS collects and transports both sanitary sewage and stormwater into the region’s storm drains.
What is an impervious surface?
An impervious surface prevents the infiltration of water into the ground. Impervious surfaces are typically found in urban and suburban landscapes; some examples of impervious surfaces include streets, roofs, parking lots, patio walkways. When rain falls on impervious surfaces the water does not seep into the ground, but runs off into storm sewers and flows quickly into local creeks. Impervious surfaces increase the incidence of both localized flooding events and water pollution.
How do I manage stormwater on my property?
As a responsible citizen and good neighbor, it is important to manage stormwater runoff from your property by retaining the stormwater on-site. To determine the impact of your home or property’s runoff, head outdoors and observe where the rainwater goes, then ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you notice any car or truck related pollutants (oil stains, antifreeze spills, etc.) being carried away by stormwater? Are yard and garden chemicals kept away from stormwater? How about animal manure or general animal waste?
- Are household products (cleaners, solvents, etc.) stored out of reach of stormwater? Do you use road salts or de-icing products?
- Is there any exposed soil around your home?
- Can you eliminate paved surfaces or install alternatives?
- Does roof water flow onto pavement or grass? Can you change your landscape’s layout to reduce runoff?
Many resources are available to assist homeowners in making smart stormwater decisions. Why not explore the guides linked below to learn what you can do to improve your property, community and watershed?
- A Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Management, published by Philadelphia Water Department Office of Watersheds
- Homeowners Guide to Stormwater BMP Maintenance, published by PA Department of Environmental Protection
- The Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater, published by PennState College of Agricultural Science
What kinds of pollutants are found in the storm drain system?
Stormwater runoff is considered a non-point source pollution resulting from materials and chemicals washed into the storm drains from streets, gutters, neighborhoods, industrial sites, parking lots and construction sites. In waterbodies, nitrogen, phosphorous, sediments and metals, originating in runoff, are most often the major cause of water quality impairments.
What do I do if I observe someone dumping trash and other pollutants into storm drains?
Only rain belongs in a storm drain system. Dumping anything else into storm drains is illegal. Examples of illicit discharges include dumping of motor vehicle fluids, household hazardous wastes, grass clippings, leaf litter, animal wastes, or unauthorized discharges of sewage, industrial waste, restaurant wastes, or any other non-stormwater waste into a municipal separate storm sewer system. Illicit discharges piped directly to the water body may also be illegal.
To report illegal dumping or suspicious activity concerning drainage in Montgomery County please contact DEP’s regional office by telephone 484-250-5900 or by calling 1-800-541-2050.