Stormwater Management Program
St. Johns County has been one of the fastest growing areas in the country. With that growth an added burden has been placed on our water supply and recreational waterways. St. Johns County residents must do their part to ensure that our area’s growth does not result in pollution of the local waterways.
Stormwater’s Role in Contaminating Our Waterways
A major contributor to contamination of our waterways is polluted stormwater. Stormwater is the flow of water that results from precipitation occurring immediately after a rainfall event. Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation flows over impervious services (i.e. driveways, sidewalks, roads) and picks up any oil, grease or other pollutant on the surface. The stormwater carried away through a system of pipes and ditches is also known as the County’s MS4 system. The stormwater flows directly from streets and gutters into our rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Straight from your street to waterways inhabited by fish, frogs, and other aquatic animals and plants.
When polluted stormwater reaches our waterways, it has many long-lasting negative effects on aquatic plant and animal life. This pollution also impacts other species that use the water, including humans.
Some potential effects:
- Sediment and other debris clog fish gills, damage fish habitat, and block light needed for aquatic plants to survive, disrupts the regular flow of water increasing flooding chances.
- Debris such as plastic bags, bottles and cigarette butts can harm marine life.
- Bacteria and other pathogens wash into swimming areas and create health hazards.
- Excess plant nutrients such as fertilizer can cause an over-abundance of aquatic vegetation removes oxygen from the water.
Far-Reaching Results of Stormwater Contamination
If stormwater pollution continues, one of our most valuable resources – our recreational waterways – will be lost forever. Please remember ditches and storm drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer system. They flow directly into streams, lakes, rivers, estuaries, bays, and the ocean. This means that stormwater is not treated or decontaminated before it flows into our waterways. Whatever you put in ditches, street drains, and even your lawn, goes directly into our recreational waters whenever there is a significant rain. We must all take responsibility for keeping pollutants out of St. Johns County’s waters.
- Littering and improperly disposing of trash and recyclables.
- Improperly disposing of pet waste.
- Incorrectly applying lawn chemicals.
- Washing cars.
- Motor repair.
- Incorrectly disposing of household hazardous wastes.
This pollution ends up discharging into local waterways as sediment, sludge and solids. These can sometimes be removed by stormwater BMP’s such as pollution traps and ponds. The most cost-effective way to reduce this problem is to prevent pollution entering the stormwater system in the first place.