Imagine walking up to the shores of Puget Sound and emptying your motor oil directly into the water, or dumping paint into the Chehalis River. Chances are you would never do such a thing.
Yet we all inadvertently add these products to our waterways just by going about our everyday lives – driving our cars, tending our lawns, painting our homes and walking our pets. The pollutants that come from our daily activities are washed away by stormwater and eventually flow through stormwater systems into the nearest river, steam, lake or Puget Sound.
Stormwater pollution from urban runoff is a serious health risk and the single biggest environmental threat to the quality of our rivers, lakes and local waterways. The Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) reports that on an average day, 140,000 pounds of toxic chemicals enter Puget Sound. In addition, DOE reports that about 75 percent of those chemicals are carried into Puget Sound by stormwater runoff from paved roads, driveways, rooftops, yards and other developed land.
To tackle the problem, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has charged the state Department of Ecology with administering what is known as the “NPDES Phase II Permit.” Simply put, the permit requires cities and counties of a certain size to adopt stormwater management programs to reduce the amount of pollution that enters water bodies. The cities of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater must meet NPDES requirements, as does Thurston County. Among other things, the cities and the county must make sure their stormwater programs inform and involve the public in stormwater-related issues. As a collaborative effort by the cities and county, Stream Team plays a major role in meeting this requirement – as do you!
EPA’s NPDES website: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes
DOE’s municipal stormwater permits website: