Public

Stormwater and Other Water Information Links

EPA Nonpoint Source Pollution

EPA How's My Waterway?

Indiana Department of Environmental Management - Office of Water Quality - Storm Water Permitting

Indiana Department of Natural Resources - Division of Soil Conservation

Water Environment Federation

Earth 911

Project WET - Water Education for Teachers

Rain Garden Manual – Louisville MSD

Water Conservation Throughout the Home - Home Advisor

 

Indiana's efforts to clean up the waters in the State have been going on for a long while now. Beginning with the Stream Pollution Control Law of 1943, followed by the Clean Water Act of 1972, limits have been placed on the amount of pollutants that may be discharged into the waters of the State. These limits are set at levels protective of both the aquatic life in the waters which receive the discharge and protective of human health.

In 1990, the rules got a little stricter. EPA set up a basic stormwater control program for states to adopt, known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Program. "Phase I" of this program regulated:

  • Construction activities that disturbed 5 or more acres.
  • Industrial activities depending on their pollutant potential
  • Municipal activities serving over 100,000 people

By 1999, the EPA was ready to implement "Phase II" of the NPDES program, and it published new regulations that covered:

  • Construction activities disturbing one (1) or more acres of land area.
  • Incentives for facilities to protect their operations from stormwater exposure.
  • Municipalities with less than 100,000 people.

They were really getting down to the nitty-gritty now, but the benefits to communities would be worth it:

  • Improved water quality
  • Safer waters for boating, swimming and fishing.
  • Reduced local drinking water treatment costs.
  • Fewer recreational beach closures.
  • A more desirable environment in which to live.

What's happening in Indiana as a result of Phase II?
Indiana established a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Program (MS4 Program), based on Phase II of the EPA's NPDES stormwater regulations. Under this program, communities are required to apply for and obtain a NPDES permit. The permit requires them to develop a stormwater management plan and to implement best management practices (stormwater pollution prevention measures).
The MS4 regulations apply to any entity that discharges into the waters of Indiana and that owns and/or operates a stormwater conveyance that is separate and not connected to a publicly owned treatment works or part of a combined sewer system (remember...stormwater does not normally go to a treatment plant). This covers not only cities and towns, but also public entities such as universities, military bases, and departments of transportation. By the way, a conveyance is just what the name says - a means of conveying or carrying water flow such as:

  • Roads with drainage systems
  • Municipal streets
  • Catch basins (curbside openings)
  • Curbs
  • Gutters
  • Ditches
  • Channels
  • Storm drains

What's happening in Clark County?
Well, the municipalities of Jeffersonville, Sellersburg, Clarksville, and Charlestown all fall under the new Phase II and MS4 regulations. In order to comply with program requirements, these communities will be:

  • Increasing public awareness of stormwater pollution.
  • Eliminating illegal connections and discharges to storm sewer systems.
  • Increasing sediment controls at construction sites.
  • Requiring controls in new development to remove pollutants from stormwater.
  • Improving pollution prevention from community facilities, such as maintenance garages, equipment areas, and work areas.

Details of the Phase II regulations can be found on the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) - Office of Water Quality web site: https://www.in.gov/idem/stormwater/.

How You Can Help

Urban and suburban residents of Clark County can play a big role in preventing stormwater pollution. Keep the following in mind the next time you do the chores around your home.

Landscaping

  • Select native plants that require less water, fertilizer and pesticide.
  • Plant pest-resistant species or species that attract beneficial insects.
  • Incorporate a wide variety of plants to disperse potential pest problems.
  • Mulch flower beds to reduce weeds and conserve water.
  • Hand pull weeds.
  • Compost lawn wastes instead of washing clippings or leaves down the storm drain.

Using Pesticides and Fertilizers

  • Always follow label directions for use and disposal. Remember, the label is the law.
  • Don't apply them when rain is likely since most will be washed away. For the same reason, avoid overwatering after application.
  • Sweep any product from sidewalks and driveways onto the yard where it can do its work instead of hosing it away.
  • Use natural fertilizers such as compost or bone meal.
  • Use slow-release nitrogen fertilizer.

Pet Waste

The next time you take Fido for a walk:

  • Carry a plastic bag and pooper-scooper.
  • Flush waste down the toilet or place it in the trash

Automotive Maintenance

  • Keep your vehicle well maintained. Routinely check for leaks, and repair engine, coolant, transmission and brake systems immediately.
  • Soak up fluid spills with kitty litter, sawdust or wood chips. Be sure to sweep up and dispose in the trash.
  • Recycle used motor oil. Clark County now has a Motor Oil, Oil Filter, and Antifreeze (MOOFA) collection facility located at the Clark County Solid Waste Management District office, 9608 Highway 62, Charlestown, Indiana. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • Use a car wash to clean your vehicle. They recycle dirty water!
  • Do not "top off" when fueling your vehicle.

Household Hazardous Waste

  • Use and dispose of hazardous household materials properly - follow label directions!
  • Read labels and choose the least hazardous products and then use them sparingly.
  • Switch to safe alternatives.
  • Take unused household chemicals to the County's Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)collection facility located at the Solid Waste Management District office

Septic Systems

  • Have your septic tank inspected every 3-5 years.
  • Compost your kitchen garbage instead of using a garbage disposal.
  • Don't pour household chemicals down the drain. They can disrupt the septic system's treatment process and contaminate groundwater.

Businesses such as restaurants, automotive services, construction firms, landscaping companies, and agricultural producers can also take steps to reduce runoff pollution, by:

  • Promoting recycling.
  • Keeping dumpster doors closed and covered in order to keep them clean and avoid leaks.
  • Using yard and deicing chemicals sparingly.
  • Covering or seeding exposed soil so it doesn't erode.
  • Disposing of hazardous materials (paint, chemicals) at proper facilities (not the trash).
  • Storing and applying manure away from waterways.

Just as important as controlling stormwater pollution in your home or business is being able to recognize pollution occurring elsewhere. The links below will get you "in the know" about stormwater. Once you know all about it, you'll be able to recognize and report pollution entering our stormwater such as:

Illicit discharges

According to the EPA, this is "a discharge to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (see the Regulations page on this one) that is not composed entirely of stormwater, except for discharges allowed under a NPDES permit or waters used for firefighting operations." In other words, an unapproved discharge of a substance/by-product into the stormwater system.

Sources of illicit discharges are:

  • Sanitary wastewater
  • Effluent from septic tanks
  • Car wash wastewaters
  • Improper oil disposal
  • Radiator flushing disposal
  • Laundry wastewaters
  • Spills from roadway accidents
  • Improper disposal of auto and household toxic

Illicit connections

An illicit connection occurs when a pipe intended for a sanitary sewer ends up in a storm drain.

Construction site runoff

Sediment (soil particles) contained in runoff from construction sites can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to receive the sunlight they need to grow. Sediment can also fill in waterways over time, destroying aquatic habitat and leading to expensive dredging. Silt fences (the black plastic "fences" you see around construction sites) commonly used to control sediment, can cause polluted runoff if not maintained or if improperly placed (or not placed at all).

 

Clark County Soil and Water Conservation District, 9608 Highway 62, Charlestown, IN 47111
812-256-2330, ext. 3