What Is Stormwater?
Stormwater is rainwater that hits the surface of the earth and either infiltrates into the ground or runs off the land. Stormwater is part of the hydrologic cycle. Although stormwater runoff is a natural occurrence, it becomes a problem with increased development when it can overload the collection and conveyance system. As natural land is developed, topsoil and trees are removed, soil is compacted, and hardened surfaces are created. These activities have an impact on the hydrologic cycle, increasing the quantity of stormwater runoff and decreasing its quality. The leading cause of stream pollution is stormwater runoff.
As stormwater runs off "impervious" or hardened surfaces, such as roads and rooftops, it picks up pollutants, such as oils, metal particles, pesticides, and pet wastes, and carries them quickly to the nearest stream or lake and degrades the water quality. Also, the increased flows and high velocities often result in flooding and erosion, and sometimes a loss of property and even life. Today, 40% of streams in the U.S. are not currently clean enough to support activities such as fishing and swimming, and another 8% of streams are listed as "threatened" by pollution. For these reasons, stormwater management is now federally and state regulated under the Clean Water Act and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programs.
In order to control and manage stormwater and improve the conditions of its stream, the County has prepared a Stormwater Management Program. As part of the Stormwater Management Program, federal and state regulations require the implementation of specific activities called "Best Management Practices", or BMPs that will be implemented to relieve the impacts of stormwater runoff. BMPs include structural devices, such as silt fences at construction sites, detention ponds, and sediment basins. BMPs also include non-structural practices, such as stricter regulations on development, street sweeping, and educating the public on pollution prevention practices that can be implemented around the home and at businesses.
The federal NPDES program required Barrow County to complete a Notice of Intent (NOI), which outlines Barrow County’s stormwater management program. In June 2004, the NOI was approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the County must now implement the program requirements, including BMPs in all areas listed above on the right. A link to a copy of Barrow County’s approved NOI is provided above.