Residents and Concerned Citizens
Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that doesn’t soak into the ground, but runs off into waterways. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas and bare soil, and through sloped lawns. Flowing storm water collects and transports soil, animal wastes, pesticides, fertilizers, oil and grease, debris and other potential pollutants.
The quality of runoff is affected by a variety of factors including the season, local weather, geography and the activities taking place along the path of flow. Concentrated development in urbanized areas substantially increases paved surfaces, such as roadways, driveways, parking lots and sidewalks. Pollutants from concentrated human activities settle and remain on these surfaces until a storm event washes them into a nearby waterbody or storm drain.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has expanded its permitting program to include a federally mandated program to control stormwater runoff and protect waterways. According to the federal law commonly known as Stormwater Phase II, permits are required for stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in urbanized areas and for construction activities disturbing one or more acres. To implement the law, the NYS DEC has developed two general permits, one for MS4s in urbanized areas and one for statewide construction activities. The permits are part of the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES). Owners of regulated MS4s and operators of construction activities are required to obtain permits.
This program has environmental benefits. New York State has made significant progress toward improving the overall quality of the state's water resources by controlling major point sources of water pollution. Despite this progress, nonpoint sources of water pollution such as contaminated stormwater runoff continue to pose significant water quality threats statewide. Controlling these nonpoint sources of pollution requires a resource management approach that is dramatically different from the past. The stormwater control program represents just such an approach.
The NYS SPDES Phase II stormwater program is helping to protect and restore our valuable water and environmental resources. Education is a key component to the success of this program. Twenty-nine of the 32 regulated MS4s in the Syracuse Urbanized Area (SUA) are working together to reduce stormwater pollution through education and improved municipal practices through the Central New York Stormwater Coalition.
Become Part of the Pollution Solution
The success of the Phase II regulatory program depends on voluntary cooperation and compliance from homeowners, local interest groups, municipal governments officials and you. Opportunities to make a difference in local water quality are everywhere. Simple actions such as picking up after your dog, participating in organized stream clean ups, or simply attending a municipal board meeting to learn more about local efforts in your community will make a difference.