Public Works Customer Service 727-547-4575 ext. 250
What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff is rainfall that does not seep into the ground but runs off over our yards, streets, parking lots, and buildings. As stormwater flows over these areas, it picks up contaminants such as fertilizers, oil, chemicals, grass clippings, litter, pet waste, and anything else in its path. This contaminated stormwater then enters our storm sewer system which flows directly into Boca Ciega Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Are the storm sewers the same as sanitary sewers?
Storm drains are the openings you see along curbs and in streets and parking lots. They carry away rainwater and transport it through the storm sewer system directly to nearby waterways. Water and other debris that enter stormdrains do not go to a treatment facility. This is why it's so important that we all take steps to minimize chemical use and pollution. In contrast, the sanitary sewer or wastewater system transmits waste from toilets, sinks and showers to a wastewater treatment facility. There, the water is treated and can be reused for reclaimed irrigation water.
Putting oil, antifreeze, paint, detergents, and lawn and garden clippings into the storm drainage system is illegal and does the same amount of harm as dumping them directly into the bay. Unlawful pollution also occurs if you allow pollutants to be washed into a storm drain with stormwater runoff or with wash water. For instance, you may be polluting if you:
- allow wash water from engine or equipment, car or boat washing to enter a storm drain;
- spill antifreeze or other material without cleaning it up;
- allow materials or wastes stored outside to leak on the ground;
- allow lawn and garden clippings to be raked or blown to the curb or street.
If you think you might have witnessed a potential illicit discharge or know of an illicit connection on or near your property, please contact Code Enforcement at 547-4575 ext. 232 or the Stormwater Division at 547-4575 ext. 254 for assistance.
REMEMBER THESE 12 EASY WAYS TO PROTECT BOCA CIEGA BAY
1. Never dispose of oils, pesticides, paints, or other chemicals onto driveways, roadways or storm drains. The next rain will carry it into the surface water or help it soak into ground water.
2. Consider replacing impervious surfaces like sidewalks and driveways around your home with more pervious materials or methods like mulch, turf block, pervious concrete or stone.
3. Review your home for storm water handling. If your gutters, downspouts, driveways, or decks directly discharge into a water body, retrofit them by redirecting the runoff onto grassy areas or installing berm/swale system.
4. Collect stormwater runoff in closed rain barrels and use it for yard and garden watering.
5. Make sure your automobile or boat isn't leaking fluids.
6. Instead of washing your car or boat at home, take it to a commercial car wash. The drains in commercial car washes are connected to the sanitary sewer system, so rinse water doesn't wash down storm drains. Many commercial car washes conserve water by recycling rinse water.
7. If you must wash your car or boat at home, use a mild dishwashing liquid and try to keep the soapy water from flowing to a storm drain. Park your vehicle in the grass or vegetation that will absorb the water, and use a spray nozzle that shuts off.
8. Instead of cleaning walkways with a hose, sweep up grass clippings, leaves, twigs and put them into a yard waste container or compost pile. Sweep up dirt and put it back into the garden. This way, you won't accidentally wash debris into a storm drain or waterway, and you'll save water.
9. Avoid using weed and feed products. Applying this product to your entire lawn is overkill for weed control. Pull weeds by hand or with tools. If you decide to use a weed killer, wear gloves, spot spray just the weed, and spray when it isn't windy or when rain isn't predicted. Never use pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides near the water.
10. If you have an irrigation system, make sure it is in good working order and limit its use to actual watering needs. Use native drought-resistent vegetation and limit chemical use such as fertilizers and herbicides.
11. Maintain shrubby vegetation along waterfronts to prevent erosion and help stop heavy rain sheet flow.
12. Do not drain your pool or spa into the street, a parking lot, ditch or outside drain where the chlorinated water could enter groundwater or a storm drain.