What is Stormwater?

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Why should I care about stormwater?

Stormwater is runoff from rain that flows off of our streets, properties, and rooftops into storm drains.  From our storm drain systems water then travels directly into local creeks and ultimately out to our local beaches.  Often times people confuse wastewater and stormwater, it is important to remember that in San Luis Obispo these are two completely separate systems.  Unlike wastewater, stormwater receives no treatment before it reaches our creeks and beaches.  The lack of treatment of this water requires us to take extra precautions to keep our creeks and other bodies of water clean and safe.

The quality of the water entering our stormdrains can have an extreme impact on our environment.  As water is discharged from our stormdrain system into our creeks we must remember that stormwater affects local wildlife, drinking water sources, and San Luis Obispo Creek, which runs through downtown and is home to many threatened steelhead.

Sampling SLO CreekWater Quantity

With the urbanization of communities across the United States, more land is becoming impermeable, not allowing water to absorb into the earth's surface.  Instead, this water runs off of our streets, rooftops, and driveways, ultimately entering our stormdrains.  This high volume of water runoff can cause flooding, erosion, and the destruction of not only private property but also native habitats. 

Water Quality

It is important for us to remember that rain, sprinklers, and other sources of water that create runoff also pick up and deliver contaminants to our local creeks.  The potential pollutants carried by stormwater can have adverse effects on our creeks, lakes, and oceans making them unhealthy for recreation, wildlife, and drinking.  Keeping our properties and our public streets clean can help minimize the opportunity to introduce these contaminants into our water sources.

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