Frequently Asked Questions
What is stormwater?
Is stormwater one word or two?
What is the EPA?
Why is stormwater "Good rain gone wrong"?
What is the City of Norfolk doing about stormwater runoff?
Where can I go for more information?
What is a "Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan" (SWPPP)?
What is a "Notice of Intent" (NOI)?
What are "Best Management Practices" (BMP)?
What is a catch basin?
Are sewers and storm drains the same thing?
Do catch basins and storm drains get cleaned out?
Can catch basins be cleaned out right before a storm?
Can filters or screens be installed in front of catch basins?
Why isn't a net/fence/barrier installed at the end of the storm drain channel to catch all of the trash?
Why doesn't the City build a stormwater treatment facility?
What kind of pollutants are found in the storm drain system?
How much water passes through the system?
What is the City of Norfolk doing about illegal dumping?
I see people dumping their used oil into storm drains all the time. What can I do?
What happens if I see a neighbor, or know someone who's throwing trash into a storm drain?
I have some paint/thinners/chemicals at home that need to be disposed of. Where can I take these?
What kind of educational programs or informational materials are available about stormwater?
I have often seen stencils over storm drains and conveyances. How do I get a stencil for a catch basin near me?
How can I be environmentally responsible when washing my car?
Yard clippings and leaves are natural, so they don't cause any problems, right?
What is nonpoint source pollution?
What are the effects of these pollutants on our waters?
What causes nonpoint source pollution?
What can we do about nonpoint source pollution?
A: Stormwater is water from precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement when it rains or when snow and ice melt. The water seeps into the ground or drains into the catch basins of storm sewers. Collectively , the draining water is called stormwater runoff.
A: Stormwater, as defined by the EPA, is one word.
A: EPA stand for the Environmental Protection Agency. A Federal Agency whose mission is to protect human health and the environment.
A: Stormwater becomes a problem when it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants as it flows or when it causes flooding and erosion of stream banks. Stormwater travels through a system of pipes and roadside ditches that flows directly to a lake, river, stream, wetland or coastal water. All of the pollutants that stormwater carries along the way, empty into our waters too, because stormwater does not get treated.
A: The City of Norfolk is preventing stormwater pollution through a stormwater management program. This program addresses stormwater pollution from construction, new development, illegal dumping into storm sewer systems, and pollution prevention and good housekeeping practices in municipal operations. It will also continue to educate the community and get everyone involved in making sure that only thing that stormwater contributes to our water resources is ... WATER.
A: You can contact the Stormwater Management Program Coordinator or the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for more information about stormwater management.
A: The SWPPP is a plan for how you will control stormwater runoff from your construction site. Because every site is unique, every SWPPP is unique. The plan needs to be updated as your work progresses.
A: The operator submits a Notice of Intent (NOI) form. The operator has control over the plans and day to day activities that are necessary to implement the SWPPP.
A: Best Management Practices are the techniques (buffers, silt fences, detention ponds, swales, etc.), schedule of activities, prohibitions of practices and maintenance procedures to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants.
A: A catch basin is a curbside receptacle, or storm drain, whose sole function is to serve as a rainwater drainage device.
A: No. They are two completely separate drainage systems. Effluent in the sewer system receives extensive and thorough filtration prior to being discharged. The storm drain system on the other hand, receives no filtration whatsoever, and discharges directly into the Elkhorn River untreated.
A: Yes. Each respective jurisdiction within the city maintains and cleans out the many detention basins and miles of channels, washes and storm drains in the system on a regular basis. Although, there are a number of problematic locations throughout the city where certain catch basins, because of either topographical location or from repeated illegal dumping, are cleaned with more frequency.
A: There are miles of channels, washes and storm drains to maintain. Vacuum truck crews clean out clogged catch basins throughout the year as they are reported. Unfortunately there are just too many catch basins and not enough resources or crews to keep them all in proper functioning order. And although the city has a flood channel maintenance program, it simply can not keep up with daily illegal dumping of debris into the open channels.
A: It sounds like a good idea. But during a rainstorm, trash is quickly swept to the catch basin and any screen or filtration device placed in front of the catch basin would cause trash to accumulate and clog the grate, preventing proper drainage and end up flooding the street. With hundreds of catch basins feeding miles of pipes and channels in the system alone, there would be far too many blocked catch basins to have crews cleaning them as the rain falls. There are new technologies being developed in the form of filtration or screening devices to be installed and inserted inside catch basins.
A: The City of Norfolk manages the flood channels and, in fact, some do have a barrier or screen near the discharge point. Unfortunately, this only catches the trash that floats in the channels or detention basins, leaving most of the toxins like pet waste, used oil, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. flow straight through into the Elkhorn River.
A: Such a facility would be extremely costly to build and maintain. And, the massive amount of water coming through the facility during a rainstorm would easily overtax the system.
A: Paint thinner and paint products, motor oil, pesticides, Styrofoam cups, paper, human and animal feces, antifreeze, golf balls, dirty diapers, and dead animals are but a few of the pollutants found in the system on a daily basis.
A: On a typical dry summer day, many gallons flow through the system. This flow comes from over watered lawns, fire hydrant pressure releases, and car washes throughout the region, just to name a few. In a heavy rainstorm, this flow can increase by many, many gallons.
A: It is illegal to knowingly dump or discharge hazardous materials into storm drain catch basins and the City of Norfolk can impose stiff fines on the perpetrators if they are caught. Illegal dumping of trash, paint products, motor oil and other chemicals into storm drains is against the law!
A: Dumping used oil is illegal. One gallon of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water. Contact the City of Norfolk to report incidents of illegal dumping.
To properly dispose of your used, but uncontaminated (not mixed with other fluids) motor oil, dispose of it through your recycling program with the City of Norfolk. For more information on the recycling and waste collection in Norfolk, call 402-844-2230 or visit the Solid Waste webpage for more information. Check our listing of businesses that also accept automotive fluids.
A: Storm drains are for the sole purpose of rainwater overflow. Dumping trash, pollutants and debris in the catch basins is illegal and is a federal violation of the Clean Water Act of 1972 as well as the City of Norfolk Municipal Code. If it's a neighbor, they may not understand the catch basin's direct connection to the Elkhorn River. If you have an amicable relationship with him/her, it may be just a matter of informing and making them aware of its environmental impact.
If it is someone who you feel is knowingly violating and repeatedly dumping into storm drains, please contact the City of Norfolk to report incidents of illegal dumping.
A: The City of Norfolk Transfer Station accepts all types of waste. We encourage you to review the Transfer Station website, and our discussion of the various waste types accepted at the Transfer Station.
A: There are variety of educational programs on how to prevent stormwater pollution. The City of Norfolk offers many types educational programs on our Stormwater Management website.
A: You can contact the local public works department in you area for more information.
A: The best place to wash your car is to use a full or self service car wash. They are designed to recycle used water and filter out many of the harmful chemicals and pollutants washed away from your vehicle.
Although we highly recommend going to a full or self service car wash, an alternative is to park your vehicle on the lawn or gravel. Use biodegradable soaps to wash your vehicle, using as little water as possible. Shut off water while washing your car, then rinse. Remember not to leave your car on the lawn.
A: Grass, leaves and yard clippings that are repeatedly swept into catch basins can clog the drain, causing flooding and can become a breeding ground for rodents and insects. Additionally, grass and leaves decompose and contribute to new plant growth which deprives aquatic animals of their oxygen, and die.
A: Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many different sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water.
A: States report that nonpoint source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems. The effects of nonpoint source pollutants on specific waters vary and may not always be fully assessed. However, we know that these pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries, and wildlife.
A: We all play a part. Nonpoint source pollution results from a wide variety of human activities on the land. Each of us can contribute to the problem without even realizing it.
A: We can all work together to reduce and prevent nonpoint source pollution. Some activities are federal responsibilities, such as ensuring that federal lands are properly managed to reduce soil erosion. Some are state responsibilities, for example, developing legislation to govern mining and logging, and to protect groundwater. Others are best handled locally, such as by zoning or erosion control ordinances. And each individual can play an important role by practicing conservation and by changing certain everyday habits.