Illicit Discharge

Illicit Discharge & How to Report it


There are steps we can take to protect our water from pollution all year round. Will you be the solution to stormwater pollution? Let's dive in!


💧Illicit Discharge: What is it?


Stormwater systems are only intended to collect and transport the water from rain or snow events to nearby lakes, rivers, and streams. Anything besides rainfall or snowmelt that enters storm drains is considered an illicit discharge.  


Illicit discharge can be many things. Some sources of illicit discharge include:

  • An individual pouring paint down a storm drain or catch basin.
  • Sediments
  • Dirt and sand from roads, driveways, construction sites and parking lots.  
  • Nutrients
  • Excess fertilizers from lawns or fields, failing septic systems, and animal waste.
  • Toxic Contaminants/Heavy Metals
  • Heavy metals such as Mercury, cleaning compounds, pesticides and herbicides, industrial by-products such as dioxin, and vehicle leakage of oil, gas, etc.
  • Soapy car wash wastewater
  • Sanitary wastewater
  • Yard waste, organic material
  • Paints, solvents
  • Used oil, grease
  • Cleaning products
  • Spills from accidents
  • Illegal connections to the storm sewer system



💧Why should I know about Illicit Discharge?

It’s important to know about illicit discharge so that you can recognize this form of stormwater pollution, and hopefully prevent it. It is also important to understand the harmful impacts of illicit discharge on the environment and water quality.

For example, illicit sediment discharge smothers aquatic habitat, depletes oxygen, reduces water clarity, and carries nutrients and toxic contaminants. Illicit discharge from excess yard fertilizers and pet waste stimulates excessive plant growth, lowers dissolved oxygen levels, degrades aesthetics, and destroys native aquatic life.


💧How to report Illicit Discharge


Now that you know how to recognize illicit discharge, here’s how to report it.


Thank you for taking the time to learn about illicit discharge, how to prevent it, and how to report it. Your efforts could be the solution to stormwater pollution.

We hope you've enjoyed your lesson at PFU! 

For more information about local lakes, streams, & stormwater, visit:

https://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/understanding/illicit_discharge.html