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NEWS | Aug. 18, 2014

Curb storm water pollution

By Charles Wannamaker 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Water Quality Program manager

Pollution from rain water runoff is one of the major sources of water pollution in the world. Storm water runoff pollution results when rain water sheet flows over the land or impervious surfaces (parking lots, roads, sidewalks, driveways, etc.) and is not absorbed into the ground. Rain water picks up and accumulates debris, chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, dirt, yard waste and bacteria from animal wastes.
Construction sites create surface water pollution due to the fact that they provide a large area of exposed soils that are easily erodible. These exposed soil particles become entrained in the runoff and are carried downstream when they 'fall out' and result as sediment in waterways. Government regulations require preventative measures on construction sites to prevent erosion and sedimentation. You've probably seen the black plastic silt fence barriers around construction sites. Silt fences filter out soil particulates so that they remain on the site and do not end up in waterways.

Prior to silt fence requirements, thousands of tons of erosion sediment were washed from construction sites all over the state to clog streams, channels, rivers, lakes and ponds. The harmful effects on these waterways are numerous and include 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.

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 auto hobby shops, not in your carport or driveway.

· Report any spills of oil, gasoline or other chemicals immediately to the fire department.

· Clean up your pet's waste.

· Never dump anything into a storm drain.

The point of contact at Joint Base Charleston for water pollution issues is Charles Wannamaker at 963-1437.