Rain that falls on streets, parking areas, rooftops, or other hard surfaces picks up oil and grease from vehicles, fertilizers, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals that contribute to water pollution. The most common pollutant measured for beach management—fecal bacteria—can be abundant in stormwater, depending on the route it has followed to the beach. In addition to animal waste washed off of streets, yards, and parks by the rain, the stormwater also picks up the fecal matter already in stormwater catch basins and pipes. Leaking sewer and septic systems can infiltrate stormwater systems in some locations, adding human waste.
In some locations, smaller rainstorms can result in more concentrated local pollution. This is because the “first flush” of rain empties out the waste that has built up in storm drains, washes wildlife waste off the nearby landscape, and delivers the pollution on the riverbanks to the coast. Once that “slug” of pollution is in the water, additional rain can help dilute the contaminated water and push it out into the open Sound.
Never throw any garbage or chemicals, including animal waste, into catch basins on the side of the road—they drain to a local waterbody. Support (or promote!) the creation of a Stormwater Authority for your city. If one of your beloved beaches is near a stormwater outfall, lobby to have that outfall moved or its discharge reduced through investment in green infrastructure in the watershed.
What can you do?
Diverting stormwater from the system prevents flooding.
Many people are doing more harm than they realize.
Living shores are our natural buffers protecting us from rising sea levels and storm damage.
Get your hands dirty. Help us restore what has been lost.
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