Stormwater runoff is water that flows over our yards, streets, buildings, parking lots, and other surfaces when it rains. It flows into gutters, drainage ditches, storm sewers, and other drains that empty into our streams, ponds, and lakes, which eventually enters the Savannah River. Water pollution is less visible than flooding, erosion, and sedimentation, but it is no less important. A variety of pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, motor oil, gasoline, and other industrial chemicals, accumulate on roofs, streets, parking lots, lawns, and other surfaces in urbanized areas and are picked up by stormwater runoff. Sometimes, people even dump paint, antifreeze, or crankcase oil from gasoline and diesel engines into storm drains.
Failing septic tank drain fields allow wastewater containing pathogens and coliform bacteria to discharge onto the ground and into ditches, where it may be swept into streams during and following rainstorms. Even something as common as animal droppings can cause harmful water pollution if they are picked up in stormwater runoff. These pollutants are eventually carried into our local stream, creeks, and lakes. The best way to stop pollutants from entering our valuable water resources is to prevent them from entering the system.