Frequently Asked Questions

What is Stormwater Management?

Storm water management practices are used to delay, capture, store, treat, or infiltrate storm water runoff. A watershed manager needs to make careful choices about what storm water management practices need to be installed in the sub-watershed to compensate for the hydrological changes caused by new and existing development. One key choice is to determine the primary storm water objectives for a sub-watershed that will govern the selection, design, and location of storm water management practices at individual sites. While specific design objectives for storm water management practices are often unique to each sub-watershed, the general goals for storm water management practices usually include the following:

  • Maintain groundwater recharge and quality
  • Reduce storm water pollutant loads
  • Protect stream channels
  • Prevent increased overbank flooding
  • Safely convey extreme floods

There are numerous structural storm water management techniques for controlling storm water quantity and quality. These five practices can be categorized into five broad groups:

  • Ponds
  • Wetlands
  • Infiltration
  • Filtering systems
  • Open channels

What is Stormwater Runoff?

Stormwater is the flow of water that results from precipitation which occurs immediately following rainfall or as a result of snowmelt. When a rainfall event occurs, several things can happen to the precipitation. Some of the precipitation infiltrates into the soil surface, some is taken up by plants, and some is evaporated into the atmosphere. Stormwater is the rest of the precipitation that runs off land surfaces and impervious areas.

Stormwater discharge is generated by precipitation and runoff from land, pavement, building rooftops and other surfaces. These hardened surfaces are called “impervious surfaces” and do not allow rainfall to infiltrate into the soil surface like natural vegetation, so more of the rain becomes stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff accumulates pollutants such as oil and grease, chemicals, nutrients, metals and bacteria as it travels across land. Heavy precipitation or snowmelt can also cause sewer overflows that may contaminate water sources with untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and other debris.

Development activities, such as clearing vegetation, mass grading, removing and compacting soils, and extensive uses of impervious surfaces (such as buildings, parking lots, and roadways), can increase the amount of storm-water runoff in a watershed. In urbanized areas, increased stormwater runoff can cause increased flooding, stream bank erosion, degradation of in-stream habitat and a reduction in ground water quality.

Nonpoint Source Pollution is water pollution affecting a water body from diffuse sources, such as polluted runoff from agricultural areas draining into a river, or wind-borne debris blowing out to sea. Development not only leads to landscape changes but also to contamination of stormwater runoff by NPS Pollution throughout the Watershed. The stormwater becomes contaminated as it flows across the land and picks up pollutants such as nutrients, sediment and chemical contaminants from roadways, yards, farms, golf courses, parking lots and other lands. This polluted storm water runoff travels through storm drains into local waterways.

What kind of hazardous products are in my home?

Here are some common hazardous household products.


  • Oven Cleaner
  • Drain Cleaner
  • Floor-care Products
  • Bathroom

  • Toilet Cleaner
  • Polish Remover
  • Hair Color
  • Deodorant
  • Iron Suppliments
  • Medications
  • Laundry Room

  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Spot Remover
  • Fabric Softener
  • Spray Starch
General Household

  • Ammonia-based Cleaner
  • Furniture Polish
  • Mothballs
  • Insecticides
  • Flea and Tick Powder
  • Metal Cleaner
  • Batteries
  • Garage

  • Motor Oil
  • Gasoline
  • Antifreeze
  • Car Batteries
  • Lighter Fluid
  • What can I do to dispose of hazardous household waste?

    Here are some ways you can safely dispose of waste.
    Take part in hazardous waste collection days
    Some communities hold these events at certain times during the year. Many types of waste are accepted.

    Look for other collection sites
    There may be a facility in your area that accepts hazardous waste year-round. Call your local health or public works department for information.

    Follow label instructions
    Some products can be put out with the trash (dried paint, for example). If you’re not sure, call the Department of Public Works.

    Contact a private disposal company
    For a fee, some licensed collectors will safely dispose of your hazardous waste. (This is usually a very expensive option) Look in the yellow pages of your phone book, under “Waste Disposal”.

    Is disposal the only option when dealing with hazardous waste?

    Disposal may not be the only – or best – solution. It may seem easier just to throw these products away. But careless disposal of hazardous wastes is hard on our planet and our health.

    Recycle it
    Many hazardous materials can be broken down and used to make new products. For example, some service stations will accept used automotive fluids, batteries and tires. Look for other recycling centers in your area.

    Use it up
    This is a simple way to avoid creating waste. Many household products have a long shelf life and may still work well years after they were bought.

    Give it away
    Friends, neighbors or community organizations may be able to use products you no longer need.