Storm Water Education

The City of Canton is required under Phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program to provide public education about the impacts of storm water discharges on water bodies and the steps that can be taken to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff. There are several ways this is accomplished. One of them is through this website. Another has been through the City's quarterly publication which contains articles that touch on a variety of storm water issues such as general storm water education topics, project updates, how drainage complaints are handled, and storm water pollution prevention tips.

Storm water runoff is the water that "runs off" the ground from rain and snowmelt. As it flows across the ground, it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and carries them straight into nearby storm sewers, creeks, lakes, and other water bodies where it degrades aquatic life and pollutes the environment. Only around 1% of our water is usable drinking water. We cannot afford to pollute and contaminate it! Storm water pollution prevention is something that we all must take part in to protect our environment and reduce the impacts of storm water pollution.

Here are a few tips on storm water and pollution prevention:

Storm sewers vs. sanitary sewers:

Storm sewers are meant to carry "clean" and unpolluted storm water runoff only. They are typically designed to flow by gravity and discharge directly to streams, lakes, and other water bodies without providing any kind of treatment to the storm water runoff whatsoever. Storm sewers are located wherever there are catch basins or storm water inlets which are structures often found along the road or in parking lots used to collect storm water runoff through a steel grate at the ground surface.

Sanitary sewers, on the other hand, are meant to carry "dirty" water and other non-storm water discharges from toilets, sinks, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, and other similar sources. They transport the dirty flows to waste water treatment plants where the discharges are treated and the pollutants are removed before the remaining clean water is released into the environment. Sanitary sewers do not have catch basins or storm water inlets. They are meant to be "closed off" from storm water.

Never dump waste, oils, or other unwanted materials into a catch basin or storm water inlet. It does not connect to the sanitary sewer and get treated! It only gets transported through the storm sewer directly to the fish waiting in the creek at the outlet of the sewer, causing pollution and degradation to aquatic life. That is why many storm drain inlets contain a "Do not dump - drains to stream!" message.

Erosion and sedimentation:

Storm Water runoff causes erosion of waterways such as creeks and ditches, resulting in sedimentation (the deposition of eroded sediment) into waterways, water bodies such as lakes and ponds, and storm sewer systems. Sedimentation of our streams and lakes destroys aquatic life and is considered a storm water pollutant. Erosion can be reduced by slowing down storm water runoff. The slower the rate of water runoff, the less erosion and sedimentation that will occur. Ground disturbance such as construction sites are typical sources for erosion since the ground within the site is usually torn up. Properly installed silt fence, grass and other ground cover, and other types of practices help to slow down the rate of runoff. Minimizing the amounts of ground disturbance, planting vegetation as soon as construction is complete, and installing mulches are always good practices to help prevent against erosion.

Salt usage and storage:

Unfortunately, the climate we live in forces us to use de-icing agents in the winter such as salt to put on our roads, driveways, and sidewalks for safe travel. Once that salt melts snow and ice, it mixes with the resulting water and makes its way downhill to pollute our streams and other water bodies. Only the minimum amounts of salt necessary should be used. Storing de-icing salt outside and unprotected causes problems too. It absorbs moisture which causes the salt to lump. The lumps freeze in the winter and make the salt difficult to use in salt spreaders. Salt that is stored outside should be kept under roof (or at least under a tarp) and away from the path of storm water runoff and melting snow and ice.


Spills of materials like gas, oil, detergents, pesticides, fertilizers, and other household products can pollute and harm the environment. If not properly cleaned up, these materials may wind up in storm sewers which ultimately discharge directly to streams, lakes, and other water bodies. Always read and follow manufacturer's recommendations and warnings before using any products. Know where spills are likely to occur, such as in garages where fuel may be stored. Keep absorbent materials on hand to absorb spills and contain the spill. Quickly block any nearby storm drains to prevent spills from entering. Notify proper authorities such as the Fire Department of any hazardous spills.

Hazards associated with the improper disposal of waste:

It may be tempting to get rid of unwanted wastes such as used oil or paint or any other waste by dumping them into a storm drainage system. But the improper disposal of waste can be hazardous to the environment and pollute our local water bodies. Such wastes that enter a City storm drainage system are considered "illicit discharges", are illegal, and are subject to enforcement actions that may consist of administrative penalties or orders, civil penalties, assessments, or other legal actions. If you're unsure how to properly dispose of waste, please contact the Sanitation Department at 330-489-3020 for more information.

Other storm water pollution prevention quick-tips:

  • Use pesticides sparingly.
  • Fertilize only as needed using natural, organic, or other slow-release fertilizers.
  • Reduce storm water runoff by directing downspouts and gutters to drain onto the lawn or flower beds.
  • Go to a car wash or wash your car in the grass. Don't wash dirt and cleaners down the driveway where it will go directly into the nearest storm drain.
  • Recycle used motor oil. Never dump oil or antifreeze down storm drains!
  • Dispose of any household hazardous wastes at approved collection locations. Never dump them in a creek or storm drain.
  • Use the least toxic products available in your home and garden.
  • Pick up after your pet and dispose of their messes in the toilet or trash. Don't rinse their messes or dispose of them into a storm drain.
  • Properly dispose of leaves and grass clippings. Consider composting them. Never dump them into creeks or storm drains to get rid of them.
  • Recycle all acceptable materials and use your garbage can for all other trash. Don't litter. It will eventually get washed into our creeks and pollute them.

Check out the links below to learn about other storm water issues:

Use the Right SALT

Don't be a Litter Butt

Don't be a Drip; Fix that Leak

A Day at the Beach

Articles from City's Canton Connection and Canton Quarterly Publication: - City Publications

EPA Storm Water Rules and Notices

Other Information

Green Infrastructure

A set of techniques collectivley referred to as "green infrastructure" attempts to utilize, enhance, and/or mimic the natural processes of infiltration, evapotranspiration (the process of transferring moisture from the Earth to the atmosphere through the evaporation of water from rivers, lakes, oceans and plants), while re-using as much water as possible to prevent runoff.

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