Stormwater runoff can be harmful


Ohio’s annual stormwater awareness week is Oct. 18-24. Do you know where your stormwater goes?

Stormwater runoff is rain and snowmelt that flows over the ground. Under ideal conditions, rain and snowmelt are absorbed into the soil where they are taken up by plants or infiltrate to become part of the groundwater. When soils are saturated, they are unable to absorb any more water, creating runoff conditions.

Litter, pet waste, lawn care products, yard waste, and auto fluids are examples of pollutants that can be carried off by stormwater runoff. Where does stormwater runoff go? In the nearest storm sewer or road ditch, which then conveys the pollutants to the nearest stream, river or lake. Stormwater runoff does not go to the sanitary sewer plant to be treated.

Clean streams, rivers, and lakes start with you! There are many small actions that you can take to make a big impact on our local water quality. Here are a few tips:

• Apply lawn care products according to label directions. Avoid applying right before a heavy rain as fertilizers and chemicals will wash off, wasting your money and polluting our waterways.

• Cover up bare soil with vegetation, mulch, groundcovers, or cover crops. Sediment is a pollutant, too.

• Use a commercial car wash where the water is recycled and/or routed to the sanitary sewer plant for treatment. If you need to wash at home, wash your car in the yard and not on the driveway.

• Compost yard waste and kitchen scraps. Or, if not possible, dispose of at Price Farms Organics, Ltd. (, the designated Delaware, Knox, Marion, and Morrow Solid Waste District compost site for Delaware County.

• Keep debris off of stormwater inlets and out of road ditches to prevent flooding of streets and roads. Plastic shopping bags, leaves, and firewood are common culprits.

• If you have a stream running through your property, consider native plants as a buffer. Their roots hold the soil together and increase bank stability. These plants are adapted to Ohio’s variable weather and need little to no water, fertilizer, or maintenance. Native buffer strips beautify your landscape and provide excellent habitat for wildlife and pollinators.

• Pick up after your pet. Dog waste contains nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which can contribute to algal blooms in our streams, rivers and lakes. Dog waste also contains bacteria and other organisms that negatively impact our waterways for swimming, fishing, and boating, and as a source for drinking water. Pick it up, bag it, and put it in the trash.

• Intercept rainwater and make it work for you by creating a rain garden and/or installing rain barrels. Visit our website and look under the Resources tab.

Now that you know you have the power to be the change for clean water, take the quiz at Test your stormwater awareness and learn more about how you can be part of the solution to pollution.

By Bonnie Dailey

Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District

Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to

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