Stormwater 101

Welcome to your first lesson! I’ll be your professor, Professor Poop Fairy. Let's get started!

💧What is stormwater?

I'm so glad you asked. Stormwater is an incredibly important resource! Just like it sounds, stormwater is every drop of rain, snow, sleet or hail that falls from the sky to the ground during a storm. Stormwater is the water flowing from your home's rain gutters, down the driveway and along the street curb, or puddling in that parking lot.

Stormwater flows down a rain gutter and into the grated drain below. Source: Canva Pro Photos

💧Where does stormwater go?

When rain falls or snow melts in nature, most of it soaks into the ground to water plants, replenish groundwater, or falls right into a lake, river, stream, or wetland.

In urban areas like cities and neighborhoods, most stormwater can’t soak into the ground, and flows over the surface as stormwater runoff until it finds a storm drain, ditch, or pond. This is because most urban areas are covered by impervious surfaces (roads, buildings, homes, parking lots, and sidewalks). These surfaces block access to the ground, so stormwater can't be absorbed, filtered, or used by plants. Instead, stormwater runs over these surfaces picking up different kinds of pollution. Once in a storm drain, stormwater flows untreated into the nearest lake, river, or stream.

💧Why is stormwater important?

Stormwater, flowing through pipes or ditches, is a direct extension of our lakes, rivers and streams. It is something to value, protect, and keep clean from pollution. Unlike water from our homes, stormwater is not treated or cleaned before it flows into the nearest body of water. This could be your favorite swimming hole or fishing stream!

Stormwater polluted by yard waste, garbage, fertilizers, car fluids, and/or road salt has a negative impact on the environment, and human health and safety. If stormwater isn't managed properly, it can also cause public safety issues such as street flooding, erosion, property damage, and the pollution of our drinking water.

While communities are legally responsible in maintaining our stormwater systems, everyone can help by being aware of what they do around their yard, in the street, or while out exploring their community.

💧Water is Life!

Clean stormwater is clean water, and clean water is life. As we all know, water is one of the most important natural resources we have on Earth. We use water to clean, drink, water our plants, and much more.

In areas with large amounts of fresh water such as the Great Lakes, water does more than well, water. Communities rely on the Great Lakes as a source of drinking water, food, recreation, jobs, spirituality, and culture. Water supports large industries like fishing, shipping, tourism, and other livelihoods. Without clean water, life could not go on.