Storm water runoff can have negative impacts to our water resources as harmful pollutants are carried to lakes, streams, and rivers. The city is working together with neighboring communities on new programs to control storm water pollution. To report a storm water problem or concerns, please call the Storm Water Hotline at 515-278-3950, or visit the City of Urbandale's citizens' request portal at YourGOV.
NPDES Permit Holders should submit their weekly SWPPP inspection reports to the City of Urbandale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Storm Water Runoff?
Storm water is rainfall or snowmelt. Some of this water may seep into the ground. The rest of the storm water flows from impermeable surfaces (roofs, driveways, parking lots, streets, etc.) and saturated permeable surfaces (yards, swales, etc.) and becomes "storm water runoff". Runoff flows to creeks and streams, either through swales and ditches or by entering the storm drain system. The storm drains are what you see at street corners or at low points on the sides of streets. Storm drains lead to a discharge point such as open channels or directly into natural rivers or creeks within the community. Natural creeks have a small amount of base flow, which is caused by groundwater recharge and high water tables that are relatively clean. When it rains, the base flow is supplemented by storm water runoff from parking lots and city streets. Storm water runoff tends to pick up garbage, debris, sediment, chemicals, automotive fluids, and other pollutants. Storm water runoff is relatively dirty.
Why is Storm Water Management So Important?
Storm water runoff is a major problem when it picks up garbage, debris, sediment, chemicals, oils, grease, automotive fluids, litter, metal, fertilizers, pesticides, leaves, and other pollutants from parking lots, yards, city streets, shopping malls, house roofs, etc. This type of pollution is called non-point source (NPS) pollution. Direct discharges from commercial industries and plants are called point source pollution, and have NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permits as mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The non-point source pollution from storm water runoff is a greater problem than the direct discharges from point source pollution.
The storm water runoff, with any collected pollutants, is conveyed by ditches, culverts, intakes, catch basins, and storm sewers that discharge directly into creeks, rivers, streams, and lakes without being treated to remove the pollutants. The contaminants in storm water negatively impact the quality of our local streams and lakes. This can result in the loss of fish and aquatic wildlife from the community's streams and creeks.
In addition, when compared to the original prairie and grasslands, the higher flows from storm water runoff create drainage and flooding problems. The increased runoff can cause flash flooding, bank erosion, and channel degradation. Changes to the land affect the storm water runoff, including: adding or removing impervious surfaces such as pavement, gravel, structures; disturbing or compacting soil through grading; or changing ground cover or other plantings.
Federal laws regulating storm water runoff require the City of Urbandale to develop and implement a comprehensive storm water quality management program to protect and improve water quality.
Storm Water Regulations in Our City
The City of Urbandale is an MS4 Community (municipal separate storm sewer system). To comply with State and Federal regulations, Urbandale has implemented a storm water management program. The required components include:
- Construction Site Storm Water Runoff and Control
- Illicit Discharge and Elimination
- Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
- Post-construction Storm Water Management
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Involvement
How Do We Protect Storm Water Quality?
The best way to protect the quality of storm water is to avoid polluting in the first place. This starts with you! You can help in many ways:
- Conserve and recycle resources such as newspapers, plastic containers, glass jars, and metal cans.
- Don't dump hazardous substances such as used oil, household chemicals, yard fertilizer, or other wastes onto pavement or into storm drains.
- Practice picking up litter and disposing of leaves and yard waste properly.
- Prevent excess runoff of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides by using them properly and efficiently.
- Participate in local garbage and debris pickup days, and recycle household hazardous waste materials to prevent storm drain contamination.
- Get involved! Seek out more information on storm water quality and get involved with local action for storm water protection.