Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium
Helping local governments meet requirements for stormwater education and public involvement

Why is stormwater important?

Stormwater is water from rain — or melting snow — that does not quickly soak into the ground. Stormwater flows from rooftops, over paved areas and bare soil, and through sloped lawns and fields. As it flows, this runoff collects and transports soil, pet waste, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, leaves, litter, and other potential pollutants that ultimately wind up in local bodies of water. A single garden hose can supply enough water to wash left behind contaminants from the landscape and into our local water bodies, so you can only imagine what an entire rain event can do. In short, stormwater is important because it can lead to pollution, erosion, flooding and many other environmental and health issues if not properly understood and maintained.

Even houses that are not beside a creek or lake can contribute to problems. Storm drains, ditch systems and pipes are designed to move runoff from your neighborhood to the nearest body of water. Contrary to popular belief, storm sewers do not carry storm water to wastewater treatment plants. Pollutants wind up in the stormwater, which empties into a stormwater drain inlet, which drains to your local creak and into your neighborhoods ponds and ultimately into the local rivers and beaches.

The bottom line is that polluted storm water degrades South Carolina’s coastal environment. Sediment particles cloud water and smother habitats for fish and plants. Nutrients like phosphates and nitrates can promote excessive algae growth. Toxic substances such as antifreeze and oil from leaking cars, carelessly applied pesticides, and zinc from galvanized metal gutters and downspouts may threaten the health of fish and other aquatic life. Bacteria, viruses and parasites from animal waste may make nearby lakes, rivers and beaches unsuitable for wading, swimming, fishing or shellfish harvesting after storms.

Remember, only rain should go in the storm drain!

See also “Frequently asked questions
Resource:  Coastal Waterways