Sediment in Stormwater Runoff

From the Unified Government’s Public Works Department:

The next time it rains, water will run across rooftops, down driveways, streets and across parking lots and yards, picking up substances along the way. This stormwater runoff collects and transports sediment that enters into storm drains eventually reaching local rivers and streams.

Sediment is loose sand, clay, silt and other soil particles. Sediment can come from soil erosion or from decomposition of plants and animals. Sediment also fills up storm drains and catch basins which increase the potential for flooding. Water polluted with sediment becomes cloudy as it settles at the bottom of a body of water. 

Many residents don’t realize how their everyday habits impact our region’s water quality. The Environmental Protection Agency lists sediment as the most common pollutant in our streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Remember: if it’s on the ground, it’s in our water.

What can we do as residents to reduce sediment? 

  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways instead of hosing them off. Hosing off these areas will result in sediment running off into streams, rivers, and lakes. 

  • Use weed-free mulch when reseeding bare spots on your lawn. Use a straw erosion control blanket if restarting or tilling a lawn.

  • Put compost or weed-free mulch on your garden to help soil from washing away.

  • Avoid mowing within 10 to 25 feet from the edge of a stream or creak. This will help to minimize erosion and naturally filter stormwater runoff containing sediment. 

  • Either wash your car at a commercial car wash or on a surface that absorbs water, such as grass or gravel. 

Learn more about how you can reduce pollutants in our water on the Public Works Stormwater Runoff Management page.