Illicit Discharge & Elimination

What is Illicit Discharge

Our Water, Our FutureThe EPA defines it as any discharge to the municipal separate storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater, except for discharges allowed under an NPDES permit or waters used for firefighting operations.

Why Illicit Discharge is a Problem

The stormwater system (catch basins, culverts, channels, drains, etc.) in Barrow County is separate from the sanitary sewer system, which means stormwater runoff is not treated before it enters the local water bodies. Dumping anything other than stormwater into the stormwater system allows pollutants to enter lakes and streams, causing health concerns and harm to wildlife.

What Barrow County Is Doing to Prevent Illicit Discharge

Barrow County adopted an Illicit Discharge Ordinance (PDF) in 2005 to protect local water quality and comply with the County's MS4 permit issued by the GA EPD and EPA's Clean Water Act.

The following illustration provides several helpful hints.

Illustration of Tips to Minimize Illicit Discharge at Home

Examples of Illicit Discharge

  • Improper disposal of auto and household toxins, such as motor oil and pesticides
  • Foam, bubbles, or milky appearance in a ditch or waterway
  • Septic Tank Waste
  • Sediment from land disturbance activities (landscaping, tree removal, gardening)
  • Unusual pipe or wastewater that has been piped to a creek or ditch
Stormwater Runoff Pollutes Graphic

Prevent Illicit Discharges into our Storm System

By preventing illicit discharges, the County's waterways will become much cleaner over time. There are many ways that you, as citizens and/or business owners of Barrow County, can contribute to the prevention of illicit discharge into our local waterways.

A few tips for prevention include:

  • When applying pesticides or fertilizers to your lawns, be mindful not to over-apply
  • Properly dispose of motor oil and household toxins
  • When discharging chlorinated pool water, hold the water until chlorine and temperature levels are acceptable to spread over a permeable surface before entering a storm drainage system
  • Have your septic system inspected every three years for maintenance needs

What you can do to help if you find an illegal/illicit discharge:

  1. Take a photo of the discharge and note the location.
  2. Report your observation by email as soon as possible or by calling 770-307-3070