Rainfall constantly washes away the dirt and pollution of our urban activities. This pollution can include litter, oil and other vehicle fluids, and any other chemicals that are on the ground. As industrial, commercial, and residential development increases, dirty stormwater has become a major pollutant to the environment. In addition to their being more contaminants, areas where open soil once soaked up the rain are now covered with concrete and buildings.
Stormwater is often carried through drainage pipes to outfalls into large bodies of water. This water is often not filtered or treated before being discharged and can contaminate our canals, rivers, lakes, Biscayne Bay, and eventually the ocean.
There are three main types of stormwater pollution:
Chemicals: detergents, automotive fluids, and fertilizers
Litter: cans, paper and plastic bags, and very commonly, cigarette butts
Organic waste: leaves, lawn and garden clippings, and animal excrement.
Impact of Stormwater
There are several factors affecting how much pollution is discharged into our waterways. The amount of litter and automotive fluid on streets and overuse of pesticides and fertilizers in gardens will affect what enters the drainage system during rainstorms.
Once stormwater pollution reaches our waterways, it can be harmful to plants and animals. Large doses of organic pollution can cause fish and marine life to suffocate from lack of dissolved oxygen (consumed in the process of decomposition), litter can injure unsuspecting fish, turtles, and even manatees and whales, and harsh chemicals (like automotive and cleaning fluids) can be toxic to marine life.