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IS IT TREATED?May 9, 2014

There is a common misconception about the municipal storm drain system.  There are two underground pipe systems that carry water away.  The first is the sanitary sewer for waste that is sent to a treatment facility, cleaned to meet strict EPA standards and released back to the water supply system.  The second is the storm drain that collects runoff and sends it directly to receiving water without being treated.  Thus, storm drains carry large amounts of pollution away from urbanized areas.

The major concerns with this type of runoff is an excess of fertilizers and pesticides, motor vehicle fluids and sediment that accumulate on driveways, parking lots and streets.  These pollutants are then carried along with the rainfall runoff and move as storm water through underground pipes directly to streams.  These contaminants can severely pollute and impair our local waterways.

What can you do to change this situation?  There are a number of key things that you can do with your own property.  The starting point is to road up as much of the rainfall on your property as you can, so that it doesn’t runoff into the street.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Install a rain garden to capture rooftop rain, rain barrels will do the trick too.
  • Restore the health of your lawn by aerating and then apply a thin (1/4”  – 1/2”) layer of compost and seed.
  • Use fertilizers containing “0” phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer bag indicates the quantity of phosphorus).  Sweep up any fertilizer that is spread only sidewalks, driveways or streets and spread it back on the lawn.
  • Use native landscaping and native turf grass in your yard.

We all need to protect and improve the water quality in our streams and lakes.  Please think about doing your part!

Visit www.iowastormwater.org to learn more about the storm water.