Stormwater is the portion of rainfall that runs off property and does not soak into the ground. This runoff drains from rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and other surfaces that do not absorb rainwater and prohibit the infiltration of rainfall into the ground. Instead, the runoff flows into the city drainage system and, eventually, into local creeks or recharges the local groundwater table. Stormwater runoff can contribute to flooding and washes chemicals, debris, sediment, trash and other pollutants into the city drainage systems and local surface water bodies.
Management of stormwater has become an increasingly important responsibility for local governments. Existing stormwater regulations, combined with aging infrastructure and deferred capital improvement projects, have driven the city's need to develop and implement a more comprehensive stormwater management program (SWMP) to achieve compliance with state and federal regulations as well as address drainage system maintenance issues.
The city is responsible for the management and regulation of all drainage issues within the city and may undertake various activities including the cleaning of ditches and other stormwater conveyance systems; replacement of aging culverts and drainage structures; and construction of new culvert systems to increase or improve stormwater conveyance capacity.
A Stormwater Utility (SWU) has been created to more effectively manage the overall SWMP and to fund the program through a system of user fees that will be dedicated solely to addressing stormwater management and drainage issues.
Stormwater runoff is water that flows over yards, streets, buildings, parking lots, and other surfaces when it rains.
How Stormwater Gets into Our Streams
When it rains, stormwater runoff flows into street gutters, drainage ditches, storm sewers, and other conveyance systems that discharge into our creeks and streams. These drainage systems convey the stormwater runoff to our local creeks and then to larger bodies of water such as the Chattahoochee River. Some of the stormwater eventually infiltrates into the groundwater table.
Why Stormwater Runoff is a Problem
Excessive stormwater runoff causes drainage system malfunction, adverse impacts to local waterways and water quality problems. When the amount of stormwater produced by heavy rains exceeds the capacity of the drainage system, streets and yards can flood.
Pollutants are carried by stormwater into storm drains and, ultimately, into our creeks. Non-point source water pollution comes from diffused or scattered sources in the environment rather than from a defined outlet such as a pipe. As stormwater moves across the land, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, depositing them into lakes, rivers, and other surface waters. Non-point source water pollution results from a variety of human activities on the land. Each of us can contribute to the problem without ever realizing it.
Currently, stormwater runoff remains the nation's largest water quality problem. Stormwater is the primary reason approximately 40% of the rivers, lakes and estuaries surveyed are not clean enough to meet basic uses such as fishing and swimming.
Urban areas can generate over 20 times more runoff compared to natural landscapes.
However, by implementing Green Infrastructure into our community, Powder Springs can reduce this runoff rate, protecting our natural resources.
Green infrastructure refers to the techniques and Best Management Practices (BMPs) used for treating stormwater. By using natural materials integrated into the landscape, water runoff from roads and sidewalks can be managed in a more sustainable way. For example, projects such as rain gardens allow for water to soak into the ground and be absorbed into the plants, instead of going into the storm sewer and having our downstream waters polluted.
Some benefits of implementing Green Infrastructure in the community include:
- Reduces neighborhood floodings
- Lessons burden on urban pipes and drainage systems
- Protects streams from erosion and pollution
- Improves air quality
- Supports biodiversity by providing habitat for our pollinators
- Increases property values