STORMWATER 101: What is Stormwater Runoff?

Stormwater rises to street level on a rainy day in the McCarty Subdivision off Walnut Avenue.
Rain. It makes plants grow and provides drinking water for all of us. Rain, especially in an area of the country that just survived a major drought, is always a good thing….right? Not always. When rain hits impervious surfaces (solid surfaces that it cannot seep through like pavement, concrete, roofs, etc.) it creates “stormwater runoff.” This “runoff” picks up pollutants as it goes, like oil and grease, harmful bacteria, fertilizers, toxic chemicals and other contaminants which are harmful to people and aquatic life.

Stormwater runoff doesn’t go to a wastewater treatment plant. Most stormwater goes into storm drains or across land directly into our drinking water sources! In fact, unmanaged stormwater causes an estimated 80% of water pollution.

As Dalton continues to grow and expand, more impervious surfaces (pavement, concrete, roofs, etc.) are being added which only increases stormwater runoff. And more stormwater runoff means more water pollution, street flooding, streambank erosion and property damage!

• Streambank Erosion. Erosion damage is already occurring in all major streams and creeks in Dalton.
• Flooding. During heavy rain events, flooding occurs on a regular basis throughout the City causing property damage, increased insurance costs and flooded sewage manholes.
• Water Pollution. Approximately, 140 miles of streams and creeks inside the Conasauga River Watershed are listed by the State of Georgia and the Federal government as not meeting water quality standards.
• Permits/Future Growth. Unless water quality issues caused by stormwater are addressed, we may be faced with water permit restrictions severely limiting future development and growth!
• Aesthetics/Beautification. Polluted and muddy streams, creeks and rivers….ditches and culverts full of trash and debris…eroded streambanks….flooded properties and streets….DO NOT make for a community that is pleasant and attractive for current residents OR newcomers.
• Water Supply. Proper stormwater management helps replenish lakes, ponds, and groundwater which makes Dalton more resistant to drought!

So how do we address this increasing stormwater runoff problem?
Our next Stormwater 101 article will discuss exactly what “Stormwater Management” entails.
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