What is Stormwater Runoff?
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground.
Is a Storm Drain System the same thing as a Sanitary Sewer System?
Sewer systems and storm drain systems are not the same. The water that goes down a sink or toilet flows through a sewer system to a wastewater treatment plant where it is treated and cleaned before it is discharged to a waterbody. Water that flows down a driveway or street and into a gutter goes into a storm drain which goes directly to a natural body of water and is NOT treated.
Click Here for Coastal Georgia’s Green Infrastructure & Stormwater Management Video to see a locally produced video that highlights important information about Green Infrastructure and low impact development practises that are becoming more prevalent in our coastal area to treat and infiltrate stormwater runoff. The video also discusses how permeable pavement, a type of green infrastructure, should be maintained.
Why is Stormwater Runoff a Problem?
Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing, and providing drinking water.
The Effects of Pollution
Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people.
- Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats.
- Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can’t exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
- Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.
- Debris—plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts—washed into waterbodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds.
- Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
Stormwater Pollution Solutions
10 Simple Things You Can Do to Be Part of the “Solution to Stormwater Pollution”
- Never dump anything onto the street, down a storm drain, or into a drainage ditch.
- Pick up after your pet. Bag it and through it into the trash.
- Compost or bag your yard clippings for curbside collection.
- Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly. (Read the label)
- Put litter in its place.
- Keep your septic system maintained to prevent leaks.
- Check your vehicles for leaks and repair them as soon as possible.
- Always recycle your motor oil and other vehicle fluids.
- Wash your vehicle over a grassy area or at a commercial car wash that recycles water, not on your driveway.
- Tell a friend or neighbor about how they can help prevent stormwater pollution.
Pollution Prevention and Control Measures
Volume 3 of the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual provides detailed information and tips on pollution prevention and control measures for residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and municipal users/operations.
This manual can be accessed at the following Link: GSMM-Vol3-Pollution Prevention Guidebook
Water Quality Consortium Posters on common practices that can pollute our waters:
What’s the problem with pet waste?
It’s a health risk to pets and people, especially children. It’s a nuisance in our neighborhoods. Pet waste is full of bacteria that can make people sick. If it’s washed into the storm drain and ends up in a lake, stream, or marine water, the bacteria end up in shellfish. People who eat those shellfish can get very sick. Unless people take care of pets’ waste, the waste enters our water with no treatment. Here are some tips to protect yourself and your water source.
- Walk your pets in grassy areas, parks, or undeveloped areas; pet waste on pavements will be carried by storm water into streams.
- Pick up your pets’ waste when possible, and dispose them in your garbage or toilet. Pet waste contains nutrients and pathogens that can contaminate surface water.
- Bury small quantities in your yard where it can decompose slowly. Dig a hole one-foot deep. Put three to four inches of waste at the bottom of the hole. Cover the waste with at least eight inches of soil. Bury the waste in several different locations in your yard and keep it away from vegetable gardens.
Some businesses have the potential to pollute our waterways if proper environmental practices are not followed. This may include gas stations, auto and boat repair shops, car washes, vet offices, landscaping and pest control companies, marinas, and industrial sites, to name a few.
Below are some brochures that describe pollution prevention strategies businesses should use in our Town to help keep our waterways clean and safe.
Auto Repair/Maintenance Best Management Practices
Gas Station Best Management Practices
Best Management Practices for All Businesses
Other Recycling Resources (Including Information on Hard to Recycle Materials):
The Chatham County Resource Conservation Education Center (CCRCEC) maintains information on its website to help citizens of the County, including Town of Thunderbolt residents, to dispose of hazardous and nonhazardous household waste properly. The website includes a listing of facilities and businesses that will accept waste oil, hard to recycle materials, toxic wastes, and recyclables from the public.
Thunderbolt’s Stormwater Management Plan
The Town of Thunderbolt has developed a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) as required by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division (EPD). This Plan provides a comprehensive framework for inspecting and maintaining Town stormwater infrastructure and how the Town will address water quality issues, enforce stormwater requirements, and educate the public about important best management practices (BMPs).
Thunderbolt's updated Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) was recently revised and submitted to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division. The approved version is available here: Thunderbolt’s SWMP
Each year, the Town also submits the Annual Report to the Georgia EPD that summarizes the stormwater activities conducted during the reporting period and how the Town has complied with its SWMP. The Town's most recent Annual Report that was submitted to the Georgia EPD may be viewed here.
Comments or Questions?
One of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) listed in Thunderbolt’s SWMP is to post this Plan and most recent Annual Report on the Town’s Stormwater website. Residents are invited to provide input on these documents. If you would like to submit a comment to the Town on the BMPs included within the SWMP or the activities summarized in the Annual Report, you may submit them electronically using the Contact Us Form.