Cleaning up stormwater pollution is a difficult task because there is no single source, no single solution and, no single responsible party. We all contribute to the problem and we all have a role to play in the solution!
Stormwater management regulations, commonly known as Stormwater Phase II, are helping to correct water quality problems caused by stormwater and to protect our valuable environmental resources by requiring that regulated cities, towns, villages and counties control stormwater discharges from their municipal storm sewer systems. Across the state, all construction activities that disturb one or more acres of soil must also employ best management practices to control stormwater runoff under the Stormwater Phase II program.
In the Syracuse Urban Area (SUA), there are 31 cities, towns, villages and counties that are subject to Stormwater Phase II regulations. Twenty-nine of those municipalities are working with the Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board to comply with stormwater regulations and improve water quality in a cost effective and coordinated manner.
Under the leadership of the CNY RPDB, these 29 municipalities are jointly implementing a wide range of projects and programs that reduce stormwater pollution including public education and training for municipal employees and elected officials. In the past, regulated communities in the SUA, worked together to establish common standards for mapping stormwater outfalls, developed common procedures for inspecting construction sites and partnered to secure grants that are providing funding for municipal staff training and other required program components such as GIS outfall mapping. These efforts and others have reduced duplicative efforts and increased compliance cost sharing opportunities. In other words, intermunicipal cooperation and coordination has improved the effectiveness and efficiency of stormwater management efforts in the SUA.
Help Government Help Your Community
Local municipal governments are making great strides in water quality improvement through cooperation and good stormwater management but, they need your help.
- Become more familiar with the stormwater management program requirements. Read the Stormwater Phase II permits and think about how they could apply in your community.
- Attend local planning board meetings and support their use of Stormwater Phase II requirements in the review of construction plans from developers and builders.
- Ask about your community's vision for future growth and development. New development can be planned with an eye towards preventing excessive stormwater runoff that can cause flooding.
- Report water quality violations, such as observed discharges of any materials other than stormwater into storm drains.
Become an Individual Stormwater Steward
- Inspect and pump out your septic system every 3-5 years. A malfunctioning system can cause excessive weed growth in lakes.
- Join or start a neighborhood association to reduce pesticide and fertilizer use on lawns. Help people understand that applying more lawn products is not the answer; careful application of the proper amount AND type will yield the desired result while protecting the environment. Excessive pesticides and fertilizers can run off into local waterways causing weed and algae growth, and negatively affect aquatic wildlife.
- Have your soil tested before applying fertilizer. Soils in the Syracuse Urban Area typically do not need additional phosphorus, a major component of most commercially available fertilizes. Phosphorus has been identified as a major pollutant of concern and its use should be avoided.
- Reseed bare spots on your lawn and maintain good ground cover to reduce erosion.
- Compost grass clippings and other yard waste. Never pile yard waste in the road or in storm drains in advance of municipal pick- ups. Keep these materials on your lawn.
Become Part of the Action
- Litter is a major stormwater problem in many areas. Clean up a stream, roadside, riverbank or beach on your own or as a member of a local watershed or community group. Find out if there's an "Adopt a Stream" or "Adopt a Highway" program in your municipality. If there isn't, start one!
- Start a storm drain stenciling campaign in your community. Storm drains can be labeled with stencils to discourage dumping of lawn clippings, pet waste and waste oil.
- If you are a teacher, use Project WET to teach about stormwater.
- If you are already actively involved in volunteer programs - promote your work. Join the Watershed Stewardship Program to get a little extra recognition and a chance to win tasty treats for you and your group.