Stormwater Pollution Prevention
Stormwater pollution can have serious impacts on your neighborhood. Litter and animal waste in the streets and storm drains makes any neighborhood look bad and can contribute to flooded streets during the rainy season. Pollution also increases health risks, degrades the appearance of your neighborhood and can lower property values.
What is an Illicit Discharge?
Any material not entirely made up of stormwater that is dumped into a storm drain (either by accident or on purpose) is an illicit discharge. Spills on roads or parking lots can turn into illicit discharges if not properly cleaned up. Examples include:
- Soaps & detergents
- Automotive fluids
- Household chemicals
- Raw sewage
- Leaves & grass
- Cooking oils & grease
To report a spill or illicit discharge, please call the City of Abilene Stormwater Hotline at (325) 437-4937
Inspect and maintain your car regularly to prevent fluid leaks. Take motor oil, antifreeze, etc. to an automotive center with a recycling program or the City’s Environmental Recycling Center. For oil spills use a product such as cat litter to absorb the oil, then sweep up the litter and place it in your trash. Never hose down spills into the gutter, curb, or street as streets are considered a water conveyance for the City’s drainage! Remember when it rains, these chemicals can turn into stormwater pollution!
Washing Your Car
Washing your car at home not only uses more gallons of water than a commercial car wash, but it also introduces soap, oil, and engine grime to the environment. The dirty water and soap washes off your car, flows down your driveway, down the street, into a curb inlet, and ends up in a nearby creek. Detergents in our creeks and ponds pose a very real threat to our fish. Use a commercial car wash instead, it doesn’t matter if it’s automated or self serve, the wastewater generated at these facilities is sent to the wastewater treatment plant where it is thoroughly cleaned before being returned to the City’s water source. However, if you must wash your car at home, these tips will help minimize pollution:
- Try using just water and a rag
- Use only minimal amounts of soap
- Use a spray release nozzle for your hose to reduce water use and runoff into the street
- Wash your car on the lawn - your yard acts as a sponge and prevents soapy water from flowing down the curb
Never pour paint, used oil, or other chemicals into the street or down a storm drain! Try to avoid purchasing oil-based paint; unused oil-based paint, thinner, varnishes, and solvents are hazardous wastes. They must be taken to a hazardous waste collection event or the City’s Environmental Recycling Center. Save and reuse paint thinner, brush cleaners, and other household hazardous chemicals whenever possible or share them with family or neighbors.
Oil and water-based paint cans and other hazardous chemical containers can be put in the garbage once they are empty and dry.
Pesticides and fertilizers pollute our neighborhood, creeks, and lakes when they’re applied incorrectly, disposed of improperly, or run off into curbs and storm drains during heavy rains or over-watering.
- Always use products in accordance with the instructions on the label; using more than recommended won’t work any faster.
- Do not apply lawn or garden products when rain is forecasted.
- Use pesticides and herbicides that relate only to the bug or problem you’re trying to correct.
- If you do not use up your pesticides, fertilizers, etc. give them to a friend who needs them or you can also take them to the City’s Environmental Recycling Center.
- Visit the City’s Xeriscape section to learn more about West Texas landscaping.
Pet waste left on the ground will wash into creeks and lakes the next time it rains, contributing harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses to our waterways. Shovel up animal wastes, seal in bags and throw away in a garbage can or flush down the toilet.
Facts & Tips
- Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters.
- When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly
- Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method.
- Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local waterbodies.
- Education is essential to changing people’s behavior. Signs and markers near storm drains warn residents that pollutants entering the drains will be carried untreated into a local waterbody.
Litter is a significant source of stormwater pollution. Litter and debris cause storm drain blockages that lead to flooding, impair water quality as well as the aesthetic and recreational value of waters, and may also be a hazard to wildlife. Litter washes down the street during a rain shower, goes into the storm drain system, and ends up in our neighborhood creeks and lakes. And it stays there a long time.
Cigarette butts can take 25 years to break down because of the plastic filters; plastic six-pack rings can take 450 years to break down; and a glass bottle will take 1,000 years.
- Keep a litter bag in your car, and make sure that cargo in the bed of your pickup is secured!
- Never sweep or blow leaves or lawn clippings into a storm drain inlet. Sweep them up and put them in your compost pile or bag them for yard waste collection.
- Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle all materials whenever possible.