What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground. It flows over rooftops, paved areas, bare soil, and sloped lawns. As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports soil, animal waste, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, oil and grease, debris and other potential pollutants.
What's the Problem?
Water falling on forests, meadows, and other undeveloped areas runs over land surfaces; much of this water soaks into the ground or infiltrates, but the water that doesn’t infiltrate runs off these surfaces and into waterways as stormwater runoff. Rain, snowmelt, and other water washing over certain land surfaces wash pollutants from impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, parking lots, and streets, as well as other developed areas like construction sites and lawns and land into catch basins, storm sewers, and ditches. Eventually, the storm sewers and ditches empty the polluted stormwater directly into streams and rivers with no treatment. This is known as stormwater pollution.
Polluted stormwater degrades our lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waterways. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen can cause the overgrowth of algae resulting in oxygen depletion in waterways. Toxic substances from motor vehicles and careless application of pesticides and fertilizers threaten water quality and can kill fish and other aquatic life. Bacteria from animal wastes and improper or illegal connections to storm sewer systems can make lakes and waterways unsafe for wading, swimming and fish consumption. Eroded soil is a pollutant as well. It clouds waterways and interferes with the habitat of fish and plant life.
According to an inventory conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), half of the impaired waterways nationwide are affected by urban/suburban and construction sources of stormwater runoff.
What is a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or “MS4”?
Water that flows down driveways, streets, and outside areas and into a storm sewer or ditch flows directly to the nearest creek, fish and wildlife habitats, downstream recreational areas, and drinking water supplies. The Town of East Greenbush operates a small municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) which is regulated under state and federal law. The MS4 infrastructure consists of ditches, storm drains, catch basins, pipes, and other stormwater management practices, such as ponds and swales. This MS4 infrastructure is different from the sanitary sewer system. Water that goes down a sink or other drain inside a home or structure flows to either a wastewater treatment plant or to a septic system for treatment. Storm sewer flows are not treated.
There are many types of pollutants that find their way into storm drains
Some common pollutants found in storm sewers and creeks include:
- Motor oil
- Yard debris and clippings
- Pet and animal waste
- Yard clippings
- Fertilizers and pesticides
- Soapy car wash water
- Sediment eroded from construction projects
It’s important to remember that any type of surface water runoff - not just rainfall - can run into the storm sewer, collect in the stormwater management system, and discharge to the Town’s wetlands, streams, ponds, and eventually to the Hudson River. For example, when you wash your car on the driveway, that water ends up in the system. Keeping these materials out of surface water runoff will help keep the stormwater system and our local waterways clean.
What is being done?
The Town has developed a stormwater management program (SWMP) plan to address stormwater pollution. This plan, required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Phase II Stormwater requirements and the Town’s NYSDEC MS4 permit, addresses six control measures by specifying measurable goals and identifying management practices to be implemented to achieve those measurable goals in order to reduce stormwater pollution. You can view the SWMP plan by visiting this Stormwater Program Management Plan page.
The Town publishes and submits to NYSDEC each year a report addressing implementation of the SWMP plan and other stormwater items. The reporting period ends on March 9th of each year, and the public is invited to provide comments during a public hearing held each year. Copies of annual reports and public hearing notices can be accessed by visiting the Annual Reports page from the Stormwater Links found below.
The Town also participates in the Rensselaer County MS4 Communities, which is a forum for the regulated communities to share resources and work in partnership toward compliance with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Phase II Stormwater requirements. The overall goal of the Communities is to utilize regional collaboration to identify existing resources and develop programs to reduce the negative impacts of stormwater pollution and ultimately improve the water quality on our streams and lakes.
What can you do?
To learn more about what you can do to help, the Town is making available the following materials and resources to help East Greenbush residents and businesses understand certain issues and take action to address common sources of stormawter pollution in Town:
- Only Rain Down the Drain! – Stormwater information brochure for residents
- Pool drainage factsheet
- Cover Your Load - Information for professional landscapers
- Don’t Obstruct Outfalls!
The Director of Planning and Zoning serves as the Town’s MS4 Coordinator and can be contacted for stormwater-related questions or for more information.
Director of Planning and Zoning
225 Columbia Turnpike
Rensselaer, NY 12144
What if I see storm drain dumping or unusual discharges near a stormwater pipe, or outfall?
Please contact theStormwater Complaint Hotline at 518-479-2525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Town’s stormwater program, please visit these pages:
Please visit the following links for more stormwater-related information: