The Storm Sewer System, Water Pollution, and the Public

Lorain's storm sewer system is a system of natural and manmade structures that serves to drain water from our community. The system includes roadside catch basins, underground pipes, open ditches, detention ponds, streams, creeks, and rivers. The storm sewer system in our community is separate from the wastewater system meaning that while water draining into the wastewater system travels to one of the City's two wastewater treatment plants for cleaning, water that enters out storm sewer system drains to our streams,  rivers, and Lake Erie with no treatment.

Once you understand how the storm sewer system works, it's easier to understand how pollution in our community can degrade water quality.  Pollution entering our storm sewer system is called storm water pollution and is often generated by our everyday activities.  Some sources of storm water pollution include:

  • Oil from our vehicles
  • Anti-freeze
  • Household cleaners and chemicals
  • Animal waste
  • Paints
  • Garbage
  • Litter
  • Cooking grease
  • Yard debris including grass clippings
  • Boat/camper sewage
  • Roadway accident spills
  • Fuel

Improper disposal of theses wastes can harm fish and native vegetation, contribute to algal blooms, and make recreational areas unsafe for swimming. Storm water pollution can also make drinking water treatment more difficult and more expensive. But there's good news: storm water pollution is easily controlled! So what can you do to prevent storm water pollution? Here are a few tips:

  • Use pesticide and fertilizer per manufacturer’s directions.
  • Repair auto leaks.
  • Clean up after your pet. Yes, Fido's poop contains bacteria and virus' that can contaminate our water!
  • Sweep up yard debris rather than hosing it down. DO NOT dump it into a nearby creek or river!
  • Properly dispose of excess paint through a household hazardous waste collection program.
  • Wash your car on the grass to allow detergent and dirt to be absorbed and filtered by the soil. Don’t forget the phosphorus free soap!

The Storm Sewer System and the Construction Community

The City of Lorain is a permittee under the Ohio EPA's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program.  While there are many responsibilities under this program, one requirement of the program focuses on the management and regulation of construction activity within the City. In accordance with Clean Water Act requirements, Lorain Codified Ordinance Chapter 1529: CONSTRUCTION SITE SOIL EROSION, SEDIMENT, AND OTHER WASTES AND STORM WATER RUNOFF REGULATIONS  has been adopted by the Lorain City Council and describes the requirements for storm water management for construction project occurring within Lorain. All construction activity within the City with less than one (1) acre in size of disturbed area and not part of a larger plan of development shall be required to maintain compliance with Minimum Standards for Small Construction Sites. In addition to compliance with City Ordinance, all construction sites disturbing one or more acres of land must obtain an Ohio EPA issued Construction Notice of Intent.

For more information on storm water rules and regulations, if you see someone dumping a storm water pollutant, or if you have a question or concern: 

Call the City Engineering Department's Storm Water Hotline at (440) 204-2003.