When it Rains it Drains!

stormdrainHave you ever watched the water from a rain storm as it swiftly passes through your local streets, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, roofs and yards? Often this water is brown in color from sediment and carries trash and other debris it has picked up along its path. The water then disappears down a grated hole never to be seen again…or does it?

Beneath our roadways lies a complex network of pipes and drains through which stormwater passes. The stormwater is passed through these pipes into our local streams and waterways. Therefore, any trash, debris, or chemicals the stormwater has collected along the way is also transported into our streams and waterways and even to our local drinking water supply!

stormdrainmarker3Many people do not understand that storm drains are the entry point into a storm sewer system, and that most storm water runoff does not get treated before leaving the system like sanitary wastewater. Everyone can help to reduce the amount of trash, debris, chemicals and even pet waste carried by storm water. The most basic thing is to NEVER DUMP ANYTHING YOU WOULDN’T DRINK OR SWIM IN DOWN A STORM DRAIN! Other ways to help include picking up pet wastes, properly disposing of household chemicals such as paints and cleaning supplies, sweeping driveways and sidewalks instead of hosing them. Wash cars at a car wash facility or on the lawn rather than in the driveway, just too mention a few.

Off the lawns, driveways, and sidewalks
Off the lawns, driveways,
and sidewalks
and down the drain! Click here to view video
and down the drain!
Click here to view video

Stormwater & Non Point Source Pollution (NPS):

stormdrainmarker1Why Worry About Stormwater?

  • The No. 1 means of pollutants entering our local waterways.
  • Results from excess runoff and impervious surfaces.
  • Increased erosion of stream beds and banks.

Non Point Source Pollution (NPS):

  • Non point source pollution originates from many sources.
  • Occurs when rainfall, snowmelt, or irrigation runs over the land or through the ground, picks up pollutants and deposits them into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters or introduces them into the groundwater.
  • Any pollutant picked up by runoff during a storm can become part of the NPS problem.
  • NPS pollution is widespread because it can occur anytime activities disturb the land or water.

Examples of Non Point Source Pollution and some Solutions:

NPS Pollution Solution
nps_ag1 nps_ag2
Cattle in stream Stream bank fencing
Stream Bank Erosion
nps_bankerosion1 nps_bankerosion2
Eroded stream bank Stabilized stream bank
Runoff from Construction Sites
nps_construction1 nps_construction2
Untreated construction runoff Runoff treated with Filter Socks
Urban Runoff
nps_urban1 nps_urban2
Downspout runoff Rain Barrel
nps_litter1 nps_litter2
Littered waterway Litter cleanup
Oil Leaks, Phosphates from Household Cleaners, Car Washes,
Nutrients from Animal Wastes, etc.
nps_animalwaste1 nps_animalwaste2
Unlined animal waste pit Lined animal waste storage
Chemical Applications: Home & Commercial
(Fertilizers, Pesticides, Herbicides)
home-fertilizer nps_soiltest
Over application of fertilizer Soil Test for turf needs

Water Quality and NPS Pollution

Non Point Source Pollution remains the nation’s largest source of water quality degradation!

Lebanon County has 528.61 stream miles. According to the PA DEP 2008 Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report 303.96 stream miles in Lebanon County are impaired. 232.38 miles are identified to be impaired with agriculture as the main source of impairment. Only 64.07 miles are impaired due to a non-ag source (most common source for these stream miles were Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) and urban runoff).

Impairment Miles
Aquatic Life Use Impairments
Agriculture Impaired 232.38
AMD Impaired 21.80
Urban Runoff/Storm Sewers 26.90
Other (Industrial Point Source, Natural Sources, Unknown) 15.37
Total Aquatic Life Use Impaired 296.45
Potable Water Source Impaired 4.67
Recreation Impaired 2.84
Total Impaired 303.96

Imparied Streams in Lebanon County

Map of Impaired Streams
Map of Impaired Streams
Click on image to view video of Sediment Pollution entering a drain
Sediment Pollution Entering a Storm Drain


Stephanie Harmon
Watershed Specialist
717-277-5275 ext. 114

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