Stormwater Education

Stormwater is the nation’s #1 source of water pollution and is rapidly growing as a national environmental issue. It is important for all of us to take particular care in our daily activities to protect our waterways. Why? Clean Water = Healthy LifeSaveOurWaterways-Proof (1)

What is Stormwater? 

Stormwater is a big deal! As communities become increasingly developed with more roads, parking lots, retail, entertainment, cars and homes there is an increase in impervious (not allowing liquid to pass through) surfaces. More impervious surfaces directly impacts our water and how it moves above and below ground during storms. These impervious surfaces impact the quality of our stormwater and the conditions of our creeks and lakes.

Stormwater Basics

Common Pollutants

Motor oil, sediment, yard waste/leaves, biodegradable materials, and paint are common pollutants that should never be put down our storm drains. These materials travel directly into our creeks and lakes UNTREATED, polluting water and natural habitats.

We need your help to Save Our Waterways! Stormwater pollution cannot be ignored. It can be prevented with all of us working together. You can protect the water quality. Learn the stormwater basics and get involved. Our Water, Our Health, Our Responsibility.  

Watershed

A watershed is simply an area of land that drains into a particular body of water. The rainwater that falls on the land flows downhill and slopes and drains into a creek or river. Many watersheds make up a much larger "river basin" or "Lake Basin". For example, most of Taylor County is located within the Cedar, Elm, Little Elm, Catclaw and Lytle Creek watershed which is part of the larger Brazos River Basin. You live in a watershed. The neighborhood you live in is part of a watershed. Every raindrop from a storm falls into our watershed. Where does the stormwater from your yard go? It flows to the nearest creek, lake, river or stream, and eventually to the ocean.

Abilene Watershed Map

Join Your Neighbors – Take Action

The things you do every day have an impact on your water quality. Small changes to your routine protects the water quality for all of us.  Here are some ways you can be a part of protecting water quality:

  • Pick up after your dog – on-leash, off-leash and even in your yard. See Scoop It. Bag It. Trash It. for more. 
  • Properly maintain your septic system. See Septic Smart for more information.
  • Secure trash cans and pet food to reduce food sources for stray animals and wild life such as raccoons.
  • Properly apply fertilizer – only apply what your lawn really needs. See Lawn & Garden Tips for more information.
  • Keep irrigation on the lawn and out of the gutter. See Lawn & Garden Tips for more information.

Report Pollution                                     

Everyday products that we use in our homes and businesses are hazardous if they enter our creeks and lakes. Be aware of what those materials are, how to properly dispose of them and if you see a spill, report it!

Only Rain Down the Storm Drain

Whether you see a spill in your neighborhood or need to dispose of household hazardous waste, please take proper actions. Chemicals entering our water is a disaster.

What to watch for and report:

  • Spills from traffic accidents
  • Someone rinsing a paintbrush in the gutter
  • Chemicals washing into a floor drain in a building connected to the storm drainage system.
  • Landscaping materials in the right of way, sitting in the curb & gutter blocking water drainage.
  • Waste water from mobile cleaning operations washing down the street to the drain
  • Concrete wash out

Use the See Click Fix to report spills or illegal dumping or call the Stormwater Service Hotline 325-437-4937. 


Know the Rules

Abilene’s storm drainage system is designed to convey rain water to our local creeks and lakes. Businesses and residents all need to be aware of what is allowed and not allowed into the storm drain system. City ordinances, state and federal regulations establish methods for controlling pollutants entering our storm drains.

The purpose behind the city ordinances are to:

  • Control pollutants headed to the storm drainage system.
  • Prohibit illegal connections and discharges into the storm drainage system.
  • Establish legal authority to carry out inspections, surveillance, monitoring and enforcement procedures necessary to ensure compliance with ordinances.
  • Promote public awareness of the hazards of dumping trash, yard waste, lawn chemicals, pet & human waste, grease, oil, cleaning chemicals, paint products, sediment and other pollutants into the storm drainage system.

General Prohibitions

  • No person will discharge or cause to be discharged into the storm drainage system or waterways any materials other than stormwater.
  • The construction, use, maintenance, or continued existence of illicit connections to the storm drainage system is prohibited.
  • It is illegal to cause materials to be deposited in such a manner or location as to cause a discharge into storm drains, gutters or waterways of the State of Texas. Materials that are no longer contained in a pipe, tank or other container is considered a threat to our water system unless they are actively being cleaned up.
  • No person shall with malicious intent destroy or interfere with structural controls in place to protect water quality.

For more specifics about these requirements take a look at the, Stormwater Prohibitions Ordinance or contact a Stormwater official.

Get Involved

Here in Abilene, we take great pride in keeping our city parks, creeks, lakes, streets and neighborhoods clean. Do your part in keeping our precious water clean. The City of Abilene partners with the local non-profit, Keep Abilene Beautiful is hosting area-wide clean up events for neighborhoods, schools, and at our local parks and lakes. Groups can adopt a street or creek to clean. We are always working to plan new and exciting ways for you to be involved in watershed protection. Get in touch with Keep Abilene Beautiful or visit their website to find out about upcoming events and get involved with making Abilene the best place to live, work, play and visit.


  1. Residents
  2. Business
  3. Teachers
  4.  Construction
  5. Property Management
  6. Municipal Operations
  7. Stormwater Resources & Information
  8. Adopt-A-Spot
  9. Contact Us

FOR RESIDENTS

Stormwater pollution starts at home? It can be the smallest thing like not picking up after your dog, applying too much fertilizer to your lawn. It happens when you wash your car and the soap and dirty water flows into the street and down into the storm drain. Help keep our creeks and lakes clean.

What Can We All Do?

Scoop It. Bag It. Trash It.

Lawn & Garden Tips

At-Home Car Maintenance

Only Rain Down the Drain!

Household Hazardous Waste

Get Involved

Here in Abilene, we take great pride in keeping our city parks, creeks, lakes, streets and neighborhoods clean. Do your part in keeping our precious water clean. The City of Abilene partners with the local non-profit, Keep Abilene Beautiful is hosting area-wide clean up events for neighborhoods, schools, and at our local parks and lakes. Groups can adopt a street or creek to clean. We are always working to plan new and exciting ways for you to be involved in watershed protection. Get in touch with Keep Abilene Beautiful or visit their website to find out about upcoming events and get involved with making Abilene the best place to live, work, play and visit.

Citizens of Abilene can also take advantage of the Citizen Recycling Center, Brush Center and Environmental Recycling Center to dispose of bulky items, recycle household hazardous materials and drop off large limbs, branches, and leaves. Every little bit helps. Keeping those items out of the landfill and out of our waterways is the best way to reuse and recycle items that would normally be considered pollutants if left in the roadway, illegally dumped in our parks and lakes.  All of us can do our part.


FOR BUSINESSES

Specific businesses can have a direct impact on our creeks and lakes. They can negatively impact stormwater by improper day-to-day activities, such as:

  • Cleaning of equipment or buildings
  • Spills
  • Materials handling
  • Cooling and refrigeration equipment maintenance
  • Landscaping and grounds maintenance
  • Dumpster and loading dock areas
  • Parking lots
  • Illegal connections to storm drainage systems

Our staff are here to help educate you about the rules and regulations surrounding your business and water quality issues. Need help preparing for an inspection or training new employees? We can help get you off on the right foot and provide the education and support you need to have a positive impact on our stormwater system. If you have questions or concerns about your facility’s inspection, contact our compliance and inspector professionals.

Autoparts Stores/DIY Mechanics

Clean up your work area…

When cleaning up your work area after vehicle repair NEVER hose down automotive fluid spills. To absorb spills on concrete surfaces, sprinkle saw dust, kitty litter, or cornmeal. Allow it to sit for several hours, and then sweep it into a bag and place it in the trash.

Air Conditioning Services

NEVER attempt to change refrigerant or repair air conditioning units because of potential CFC leaks. Air conditioning repairs must be done by an EPA-certified air conditioning technician.

Car Washes

Washing your car in a driveway or street means the dirty water flows untreated into the nearest storm drain and to the nearest creek and lake. This used water contains residue from gasoline, rust, motor oil, exhaust fumes (caked on your tail pipe). The soap you use may also contain phosphates, which can cause algae blooms in waterways.

Carpet Cleaning

Carpet Cleaners have been identified as having the potential to negatively impact water quality due to the illegal practice of discharging wastewater into a storm drain.  When disposing of carpet cleaning wastewater it must drain to a sanitary sewer system to be treated otherwise the harmful chemicals and toxins will flow directly into our creeks and lakes killing wildlife and polluting the water.

Gas Stations

Stormwater runoff that picks up gasoline can contain harmful chemicals including the known human carcinogen benzene. That stormwater can then infiltrate adjacent soil or flow into local waterbodies through our drainage system. Heavy metals and toxic chemicals bioaccumulate in fish we catch and eat from our lakes, causing harm to human health over time. Oil and grease also decreases habitat availability to aquatic organisms and clog the gills of fish.

Homeowners Association

How a homeowner’s association maintains your property actually has a large impact on the water and natural habitats of our creeks and lakes. Facilities are required by law to prevent pollutants from entering the storm drainage system. Click on the Property Manager’s Resources page for more information.

Hood Cleaners

Mobile cleaners perform restaurant cleaning typically at night when the restaurant is closed. The cleaners have been known to move the equipment to the exterior of the restaurant for cleaning without proper water quality protection practices. This practice is illegal and the waste water must drain to an inside sanitary sewer drain.  [link to Hood Cleaner Resource Sheet]

Landscapers

Landscape maintenance service providers perform many activities that have the potential to negatively impact water quality – including fertilizer and pesticide application, irrigation system installation and maintenance, mowing, and material staging. [insert Fact Sheet]

Mobile Cleaners & Pressure Washers

Common sources of pollutants from mobile cleaning businesses include: soap, oil, grease, paint and dirt. Exterior cleaning benefits water quality when done with water quality in mind. [insert Fact Sheet]

Outdoor Special Events

Water flows through storm drains directly to creeks without being treated. At an event, stormwater can pick up pollutants, such as oil, trash, and food left behind by vendors and guests. As an event coordinator, your organization is responsible for stormwater violations. Check out this resource sheet for some guidelines that help to prevent stormwater pollution.

Property Managers 

Property Managers Resource Sheet

Rental Stores

The use of some rental equipment can create liquid wastes if not cleaned up properly. Allowing wastes to flow into a ditch, gutter, or storm drain can pollute our creeks and lakes. 

Restaurants

Common sources of pollutants from restaurants include:

  • Litter and liquids from dumpster areas
  • Grease from spills or leaks from outdoor grease bins
  • Mop water being poured outside Wash water that is not collected from outdoor washing. [insert Restaurant brochure]

Small Construction Projects 

Spills and sediment from work sites can flow into storm drains and pollute local creeks and lakes. Pollutants leaving worksites are prohibited by law. The following resource page illustrates best management practices (BMPs) that can be used at construction projects to protect storm drains and prevent pollutions.

Vehicle Service Facilities

Common sources of pollutants from vehicle repair businesses include:

  • Vehicle fluid leaks
  • Outdoor washing
  • Outdoor storage [insert Repair Resources Sheet]