Storm water is rain that does not seep into the ground and runs off into our storm drain system and eventually flows into our streams and lakes. Impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots, driveways, and roofs that are common in urban areas prevent the rainwater from percolating into the ground and increase the amount of storm water runoff. Storm water is not treated before it is discharged into our waterbodies and anything that it comes into contact with as it flows over the landscape can contaminate the water. Polluted storm water runoff can be harmful to plants, fish, animals, and people. Some of the most common contaminants that are found in storm water are listed below.
Excess nutrients from lawn fertilizers can cause algae blooms that form green scum on the surface of the water. When the algae die, their decomposition removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can’t exist without dissolved oxygen. The low oxygen level in the water can lead to massive fish die-offs called fish kills.
Bacteria and disease causing organisms can be transported into waterbodies from pet waste or raw, untreated sewage. If the water is used for recreational purposes (fishing, swimming, boating), these contaminants can create health hazards.
Debris /Trash such as plastic bags, cans, bottles, and cigarette butts when washed into our waterbodies can choke, suffocate, or entangle aquatic life including ducks, fish, turtles, and birds.
Household chemicals like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life.
Metal particles deposited on roadways from automobiles can be washed into the storm drains when it rains. Metals have a tendency to bioaccumulate in the environment, meaning that as small fish become contaminated with metals and are eaten by progressively larger fish, the concentrations of metals in the fish tissue continue to increase. This poses a significant health risk for humans that consume tainted fish.
Polluted storm water can also affect drinking water sources and can impact human health and increase drinking water treatment costs. Storm water runoff from Tyler flows to one of the following creeks:
- Black Fork Creek
- Gilley Creek
- Indian Creek
- Shackleford Creek
- West Mud Creek
- Willow Creek
A portion of our storm water runoff flows into Lake Tyler, the City’s drinking water source. Drinking water is treated to remove harmful contaminants and make it safe for human consumption. Higher concentrations of contaminants in the storm water require more treatment to make the water safe for us to drink. The goal of our Storm Water Management Program is to reduce the amount of storm water pollution that enters our streams and lakes and improve the quality of life in our City.