Storm Water Runoff and Tips

Storm Water Runoff and Tips

Storm water runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground.  As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (e.g., paved streets, parking lots, rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality.  The primary method in preventing these pollutants from being carried into surface waters is to employ Best Management Practices (BMPs).  Public support depends on public awareness, so residents need to know that many routine activities can affect water quality. 


Educational Information:

“Storm Water Pollution Prevention:  Protecting Your Waterways”  

USEPA’s “After the Storm” (English) or “Después de la Tormenta” (Spanish)


Household Tips for Protecting our Surface Waters

  • Reduce the amount of fertilizers , pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals that you use.  Buy only what you need, reducing the amount to be later discarded.  Be sure to follow label directions.
  • Recycle used oil, automotive fluids, batteries and other chemical products.  Do not dispose of these hazardous products in toilets, storm drains, wastewater systems, creeks, alleys or the ground.  Those actions pollute the water supply.
  • Depending on where you live, contact either the City of Indianapolis (317-327-2234) or the Hancock County Solid Waste Management District (317-462-7605) for information on recycling household hazardous waste opportunities.
  • Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on an unpaved surface to reduce the amount of dirty, soapy water entering storm drains and waterways.
  • Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in a trash container.  Pet waste contributes bacteria and nutrients to storm water.
  • Participate in watershed clean-up activities.
  • Clean your driveway, patio, sidewalk and garage floor with a broom rather than a hose.
  • Visit the Indiana Clear Choices Clean Water website  to learn more about what you can do.
  • Share these tips with your family, friends and neighbors.


Pet Waste

Droppings from dogs, cats, and other commonly kept animals, such as exotic birds, rabbits, goats, and chickens, can be troublesome in two ways.  First, pet wastes contain nutrients that can promote the growth of algae if wastes enter streams, lakes, and estuaries.  Second, animal droppings contain bacteria that can cause disease.


The risk of storm water contamination increases if pet wastes are allowed to accumulate in animal pen areas or left on sidewalks, streets, driveways, or drainage ways from which they can be carried with storm water runoff to water bodies.  Instead of allowing pet wastes to accumulate or sending them to a landfill, consider flushing the wastes down the toilet or burying them. 


Pet Waste Tip Card – English and Spanish provided by the California Water Boards.


Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens

Rain water collected in a rain barrel is a free source of extra water that can be used for watering your plants and lawn, cleaning siding or washing the car.  You can also use it to water your vegetables, but don’t use rainwater within a couple of days of harvesting and always wash with tap water before eating.  Refer to the Hancock County SWCD  for more information on purchasing or making a rain barrel.


Pond and Ditch Erosion and Maintenance

Erosion occurs in ponds because of wave action, water currents from aerators, inadvertent damage from vehicles or other equipment, and rain impacting on bottoms, dams, and embankments of empty ponds. 


Proper pond maintenance is very critical and aids in the prevention of many problems that may arise from having a poorly maintained storm water pond.  Wildlife habitat destruction, flooding and erosion are issues that may occur due to a lack of maintenance.  If your property is along a pond, routinely clean up litter that has collected, don’t over use fertilizers and report any structural damage to your Home Owner’s Association or the Town.


 “Storm Water Pond Maintenance for Homeowners– learn more about maintaining a residential storm water management pond.  Additionally, refer to the “Pond Management and Maintenance” brochure for more information.