Q: What is a watershed?

A: A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common body of water, such as a creek, river or lake.

Q: What is stormwater runoff?

A: Stormwater runoff consists of rain and snow melt that flows over the ground. Normally, this water would naturally absorb into the ground. However, surfaces that cannot be penetrated by water, such as driveways, sidewalks and paved roads, prevent stormwater runoff from being absorbed.

Q: Why is stormwater runoff a problem?

A: As the rain and snow flows over the ground, it picks up hazardous chemicals, dirt and grass, motor oil, litter, waste, and other pollutants. This new concoction of dirty water then enters into either the closest body of water or a storm drainage system. Unlike water in the sewer system, any substance - water or otherwise - that enters into the storm drainage system is released untreated into the water bodies that we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water.

Q: What is illegal dumping?

A: It is illegal to release any substance into the stormwater system that is not stormwater or irrigation water. Substances that are illegal to dump into the stormwater system include pesticides, fertilizers, household chemicals, paint, soap, detergent, wash water, pet waste, litter and soil. Exemptions include water from sources apart from stormwater and irrigation water, such as air condition condensation, car wash water and water from sprinklers.

Q: What are some negative impacts of stormwater runoff?


  • Increases flooding.
  • Delivers pollutants.
  • Erodes channels.
  • Decreases water quality.
  • Contaminates the groundwater used to provide base flow for streams and healthy habitats for aquatic life.

Q: What benefits do healthy aquatic ecosystems provide?


  • Help maintain water quality.
  • Serve as an indicator of water quality and its suitability for other uses.
  • Provide major sources of protein, such as fish.
  • Increase genetic diversity.