In the past, our focus on water pollution rectification was aimed at industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants and the discharges they produced. Significant effort, resources, and time were channeled into cleaning up these point-sources of wastewater. Now, we’ve transitioned our focus towards the widespread clean-up of non-point source pollution which affords us, as a community, the opportunity to tackle and eliminate the local water pollution that has been generated and carried into our rivers, streams, pipes, and ditches.
The problem with non-point source pollution is it is very expensive to treat and discharge. Treatment facilities would have to be very large to treat storm peak flows and would sit unused more than 95% of the time.
The solution: come together as a community to improve stormwater quality by preventing runoff from becoming polluted at beginning of the cycle.
Specifically, for Salt Lake County, what goes into the storm drain makes its way into the local creek, rivers, and streams. Each of these are part of a larger watershed — the Jordan River Watershed, which lead to major rivers, and eventually to the Great Salt Lake. Because all of the bodies of water are interconnected and not defined geographically by county, state, or city lines, the federal government regulates everything that ends up in the storm drain system.
The federal government regulates stormwater through a permit process, referred to as Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit Program (MS4 Permit Program). Each permit mandates the county to meet specific water quality standards.
Salt Lake County was the first MS4 permitted in 1995. Since then, all cities have joined together to accomplish federal regulations and protect stormwater quality in Salt Lake County. All participating municipalities are in the same watershed and are co-permittees legally at the Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Quality. This means combining efforts and outreach because all the waters need protecting in the areas which we maintain.
What is stormwater?
Stormwater is the water from rain, snow, and sleet which travels down the gutters into the storm drain.
Stormwater starts off clean. Stormwater flows directly into rivers, lakes, and streams. It is almost never treated. Everything stormwater collects from the land surface, roadways, sidewalks, parking lots, construction sites, business parks, etc. is carried to gutters, storm drains, canals, drainageways, and finally ends up in rivers and streams — all untreated.
Types of Stormwater Management Facilities
Grass Drainage Swales
Nonstructural Drainage Practices
Wet and Dry Ponds
Porous (Permeable) Pavement
Rain Barrels and Cisterns
Underground Filtering Facilities
Underground Flow Splitter
Underground Hydrodynamic Separators
Underground Sand Filter
Underground Storage Structures