Everything that goes onto our streets or down any interior or exterior drain has the potential to end up in our waterways. With so much of our economy, our quality of life and our eco-system dependent upon clean water, it is essential that we do everything possible to prevent water pollution.
What is stormwater?
Stormwater is untreated water that drains from the surface of roofs, lawns, streets and other paved surfaces through the 7,845 miles of the City’s storm drain system. This includes water from rain, irrigation, car washing and even that cooler of ice that you may empty. Virtually any water that hits Fort Lauderdale streets will flow to a storm drain -- and eventually to our waterways.
What is stormwater pollution?
Rainwater and water from hoses and sprinklers can wash loose trash down storm drains and into our waterways. Living in Fort Lauderdale means that there are plenty of opportunities for storm water to pick up floating debris due to our frequent summer rainstorms. Along the way to the City's storm drains, this water picks up pollutants and floatables, including street debris like cigarette butts, Styrofoam cups, and fast-food wrappers. The moving water can also become mixed with chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, motor oil and car fluids which runoff from homes and businesses, as well as grass clippings and pet waste. Leaking and improperly maintained septic systems cam also disperse to the stormwater on its way to a drain. Even water that starts out inside can cause pollution. That's because what you wash down your sink or shower, or flush down your toilet could cause blockages, which can cause broken pipes, resulting in water free flowing back to waterways.The result is polluted stormwater.
Where does stormwater go?
Storm systems are designed to recycle water. That is, they are designed to put clean rain water back through the water cycle-- in other words, into the waterways. Unfortunately, this means that any debris in the stormwater gets swept along through the drain system and also ends up in our waterways. So, unmonitored and unstopped, this debris will end up in the same water where we boat and fish, where marine mammals live, where shore birds nest, and that tourists view. The good news is that it can be stopped.
What are the costs of stormwater pollution?
Stormwater pollution poses a health risk, harms marine life, closes beaches, contaminates the ocean, impacts the economy, harms the environment, affects neighborhoods and property values, clogs gutters and catch basins, attracts rodents, creates unpleasant odors, and adds to the City's operating expenses.
How does the City stop stormwater pollution?
During rainstorms, the City is able to channel rainwater to catch basins and storm drains in order to prevent flooding in t
Our Public Works Department works diligently to set up automatic systems for catching debris before it hits waterways, but also conducts waterway maintenance and participates in and supports waterway clean up events. he streets. In some cases the stormwater travels to a pump station where it passes through a bar screen to filter out large floatables and debris, which are then collected for disposal. The water remains in a holding tank until it reaches a certain level, then it is automatically discharged into the waterway.
How can you stop stormwater pollution?
Practice Stormy's Top 10 Habits:
- Report illegal dumping into the storm drain or sanitary sewer system, clogged storm drains, or overflowing manholes by calling the 24-hour Customer Service Center at 954-828-8000.
- Use lawn and garden products sparingly. Use fertilizers with less than two percent phosphorous and organic, biodegradable, non-toxic pesticides.
- Check all vehicles, motorcycles, boats and other watercraft and outdoor recreational vehicles for leaks.
- Dispose of household hazardous waste properly.
- Maintain swale areas for proper drainage and retention.
- Sweep paved surfaces instead of hosing them down.
- Dispose of yard waste and clippings properly.
- Xeriscape with native, drought and pest resistant plants.
- Purchase biodegradable, nontoxic, recycled/recyclable products when possible.
- Pick up pet waste. Leaving pet waste behind is unlawful and is a form of littering punishable under the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Code of Ordinances.
Becoming more conscious of the problem is the first and best step. This section of the website offers resources for residents, homeowners, business owners, developers, boaters and those in the construction and restaurant industry who want to discover ways to be proactive about preventing storm water pollution. Visit the links in the navigation menu on the left, or explore some of the resources here.
This is the South Florida Water Management District's webpage on Stormwater Pollution Prevention. It is full of practical tips and interesting articles which break complex issues down into simple language. Here you can discover why too much phosphorous is bad, how to figure out your drainage capacity and even what questions to ask your local nursery.
This is a series of programs and tips from the U.S. EPA regarding water and waterway pollution prevention. A related website, Stormwater Homepage, offers more technical information and background materials for those wishing more in depth information and for those in business and industry.
The Florida Stormwater Association is a nonprofit organization serving professionals in stormwater management, in addition to stormwater finance. FSA provides training, educational resources, technical assistance, networking opportunities, and advocacy. The City of Fort Lauderdale has presented at and attended FSA conferences.