What is the source of water pollution?
Water pollution originates from various sources. Typically, it is categorized into one of two sources known as either "point source" or "non-point source" pollution. Point source pollution traditionally includes treated discharges from a wastewater treatment plant or an industrial facility directly to a body of water. These discharges contain measurable quantities of water and pollutants. Non-point source pollution occurs by the transport of pollutants in stormwater runoff overland to a body of water, such as a stream, river or canal. Sources of this type of pollution include oil and grease from roadways, lawn and garden pesticides and other litter and debris. Even soil and sediment erosion from exposed soils such as on a construction site is considered a pollutant. The amount of these types of pollutants is dependant on the amount of rainfall and the land uses in a particular watershed. The more intensely a watershed is developed, the more stormwater runoff and pollutants enter the County's drainage system. Therefore, urbanized and developing areas tend to generate a great deal of non-point source pollution.
What is the state and federal government doing to prevent water pollution?
Recognizing the importance of controlling water pollution, the Federal government authorized the Clean Water Act of 1987, part of which mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prepare a plan to characterize and address non-point source pollution. In response, the EPA developed the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permitting program. The program was to be introduced in two phases. Phase I began in 1990 and Phase II in 1999. Phase II of the NPDES stormwater permitting program regulates Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System's (MS4's), such as ours in St. Lucie County. A MS4 is a publicly owned conveyance or system of conveyances (i.e. ditches, canals, curbs, catch basins, underground pipes, etc.) that is designed for the discharge of stormwater to surface waters of the state. Cities, counties and drainage districts typically operate MS4's. In October 2000, EPA authorized the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to implement the NPDES stormwater permitting program in Florida. FDEP currently regulates several sources of point source and non-point source pollution through their NPDES Stormwater Program.
To report a potential illicit discharge within the unincorporated areas of St. Lucie County contact the Illicit Discharge Hotline at (772) 462-1668 or click here to complete our on-line form.
To report a potential illicit discharge within the City of Port St. Lucie contact the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Hotline at (772) 344-4319.
To report a potential illicit discharge within the City of Fort PIerce contact Fort Pierce Stormwater Hotline at 772-467-3782 or StormwaterHotline@city-fortpierce.com.
What is St. Lucie County doing to prevent water pollution?
On September 9, 2003 St. Lucie County obtained coverage under the state's "Generic Permit for Stormwater Discharge from a Phase II MS4". The permit establishes several "Best Management Practices" (BMP's) and measurable goals that St. Lucie County must implement to reduce pollutants to the maximum extent practical to improve water quality within its MS4 over a five-year period. The required BMP elements outlined in the County’s NPDES permit can be summarized as follows:
Public Education and Outreach
To distribute educational materials and perform outreach to inform citizens, businesses and farmers such as through the programs offered at St. Lucie County's Oxbow Eco-Center, about the impacts polluted stormwater runoff discharges can have on water quality.
Public Participation and Involvement
To provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the development and implementation of a stormwater management program for St. Lucie County.
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
To develop, implement and enforce a plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to the County's storm drainage system.
Construction Site Runoff
To develop, implement and enforce an erosion and sediment control program for construction activities that disturb one acre or more of land.
Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
To develop and implement a program to reduce or eliminate pollutant runoff from County facilities and operations.
Why should controlling water pollution matter to me?
Non-point source pollutants eventually make their way through the County's drainage system to major water bodies, such as the North Fork of the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon. They can have significant impacts on water quality, affecting the habitat for fish, aquatic organisms and other wildlife. This ultimately leads to degradation and reduced use and benefits of these great environmental resources to the residents and economy of St. Lucie County.
What can I do to prevent water pollution?
Homeowners can reduce water pollution by making simple changes, such as reducing the amount they water and fertilize their lawns to proper maintenance of their drainage swales. Did you know that besides draining our properties, swales act as a filter to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff and can promote groundwater recharge? To learn more about how you can help make a difference, contact the St. Lucie County Cooperative Extension to learn more about their program offerings.