PDEQ Highlights Stormwater Survey Results During National Water Quality Monthby Pima County News on Jul. 30, 2013, under Environmental Quality, Pima County, Tucson, Water
The good news from a recent survey of 500 local households is that 84 percent of respondents said they believe there is a moderate to serious problem with polluting materials swept up in stormwater entering storm drains and potentially infiltrating the ground water.
But the water quality-related telephone survey identified an area that needs more education: 41 percent of those surveyed didn’t think there was a problem with pet waste entering storm drains.
The results are being released by Pima County Department of Environmental Quality in celebration of August’s National Water Quality Month. The survey, by FMR Associates, will help determine baseline knowledge of stormwater issues and estimate current actions people are taking to protect the quality of stormwater.
“The survey responses will really help us target our ‘Clean Water Program’ message and educational efforts during this next year,” said Marie Light, Stormwater Program Manager at PDEQ.
Light noted the responses on pet waste, for example, are problematic since waste from carnivorous animals can contain parasites, bacteria and viruses that spread disease to humans and other animals, including wildlife. Water sampling in some areas of Pima County indicates that disease-causing bacteria, along with other pollutants, are found in our stormwater.
“Since water is such a precious resource in our community, it is vital to do what we can to prevent contamination of stormwater so future generations will have abundant clean water,” said Light.
As part of the 1972 Clean Water Act passed by the U.S. Congress, Pima County has a permit that authorizes the county to discharge stormwater from storm sewer systems to receiving waters (washes and stream channels). There are more than 2,000 miles of roadways, 39 miles of storm drains, and other infrastructure that collect runoff into stream channels in Pima County. PDEQ staff are required to periodically sample and analyze stormwater to track pollution levels. The PDEQ Clean Water Program works to minimize the discharge of pollutants carried by stormwater runoff.
Pollutants of concern in Pima County include:
- Pathogens: Disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, come from fecal waste of humans and animals.
- Nutrients: Compounds used to stimulate plant growth, like nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilizers, cause health problems like Blue Baby syndrome.
- Sediment: Sand, dirt and gravel eroded by runoff can clog ditches, culverts and drain pipes resulting in flooding.
- Toxic contaminants: Substances that are harmful to aquatic wildlife or human beings (heavy metals such as copper, lead, zinc, pesticides, oil and grease, and other organic compounds); resistant to decomposition; and tend to be passed along through the food chain.
- Debris: Unsightly trash can be swept downstream blocking flow and can contain pathogens and toxic contaminants.
Helpful Tips to Maintaining Good Surface Water Quality
- Use stormwater as a resource to irrigate landscaping at your home or business.
- Sparingly apply pesticides and herbicides according to manufacturer’s recommendations and well before it rains.
- Properly dispose of household hazardous waste.
- Repair leaking vehicles.
- Properly dispose of pet waste.
- Report illegal dumping by contacting PDEQ at (520) 724-7400 or on-line at www.pima.gov/deq.
For more information, please contact the PDEQ Clean Water Program at (520) 724-7400 or click here.