An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News Search
NEWS | Dec. 19, 2023

Preventing Water Pollution

Joint Base Charleston Environmental Office

When the subject of water pollution comes up, most people think of the discharge of contaminants into waterways of such things as oil, chemicals, hazardous waste, sewage, and garbage. In reality however, pollution from stormwater runoff is one of the leading sources of water pollution in the United States.

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain flows over the land or impervious surfaces (parking lots, roads, sidewalks, driveways, etc.) and doesn’t have time to seep into the ground. As the water flows over these surfaces, it picks up and accumulates debris, chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, dirt, yard waste, and bacteria from animal wastes. This water then finds the nearest stormwater conveyance structure and flows to our nearest picturesque river, pond, lake and/or harbor.

Construction sites provide one of the greatest opportunities for surface water pollution. This is due to the fact that construction sites provide a large area of disturbed soils that are easily erodible. The disturbed soil particles become entrained in the runoff and are carried a considerable distance before they ‘fall out’ and result as sediment in waterways. A lot of people don’t realize that yes, dirt is a pollutant. Recent government regulations require preventative measures on construction sites to prevent erosion and sedimentation. You’ve probably seen the short (approximately 3 foot tall), black plastic barriers around construction sites which are called silt fences. Silt fences act as a temporary perimeter encompassing the area where land disturbance will take place. They also help contain the disturbed soil so that it remains on site and doesn't end up filling or clogging waterways.

Prior to these new regulations, thousands and thousands of tons of dirt were washed from construction sites all over the state to silt up and clog streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. The harmful effects on these waterways are numerous and include such things as damage to (or loss of) wetlands and other natural ecosystems; loss of plant life; reduced populations of fish, other animals, and microscopic organisms; reduced quantities of clean drinking water, and loss of recreational areas.

The below chart illustrates the dramatic difference in soil erosion rates depending on the actual land use:

Land Use Type Tons/Year
Forest 24 or greater
Farm Land 4,800 or greater
Construction Sites 48,000 or greater

Besides soil erosion there are also the previously mentioned pollutants that end up being deposited in waterways as a result of storm water runoff. The presence of these pollutants in the environment results in a very serious risk of potential groundwater contamination.

Here are just a few things you can do to help prevent pollution to the groundwater and surface waterways of Joint Base Charleston and the surrounding communities:
• Don’t sweep, blow, or wash yard waste into storm drains.
• Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and only in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Perform vehicle maintenance/repairs at the auto hobby shop, not in your carport or driveway.
• Report any spills of oil, gasoline, or other chemicals immediately.
• Clean up your pet’s waste.

The points of contact at Joint Base Charleston for water pollution issues are Earle Folger on the Air Base side (963-1439) and Kurtis Evans on the Weapons Station side (963-1483).