Stormwater

Learn more about stormwater and its impact on river water quality by visiting the Greater Elkhart County Stormwater Partnership at:
www.stormwaterelkco.org.

What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is water from snow and ice melting, as well as rain water from storms. When stormwater lands on natural surfaces like forests and grassy areas, most of it soaks into the ground. When it lands on streets, parking lots and other hard surfaces, it usually runs off to another location. 

What is Stormwater Pollution?
As storm water flows (or snow melts), it picks up debris, chemicals (such as fertilizers and pesticides), dirt, cigarette butts and other pollutants. This "contaminated" water then enters a storm sewer system and is eventually discharged to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or pond. 

Storm DrainStormwater and why it is a concern?
Within Elkhart stormwater may run off of driveways, parking lots, construction sites and streets, where it picks up oil, grease, sediments, and many other pollutants that are harmful to the environment. When the stormwater washes down our streets it flows into storm drains and then flows directly to our ponds, creeks, and rivers. When this stormwater flow becomes polluted with eroded soils, automotive fluids, trash, and lawn chemicals, it affects our ability to use our water bodies for drinking and recreational purposes and it degrades fish and other aquatic habitats.

 

The only way to lessen this pollution is to reduce the amount of pollutants washed away by stormwater.

Why does Elkhart need a Stormwater Utility?
The City of Elkhart has many natural waterways that wind through the community. Walking/jogging paths and numerous city parks are adjacent to these waterways providing recreational opportunities for anglers, kayakers and canoeists. Discharges from various facilities located along the banks of these waterways have been disconnected or cleaned up over the years in an effort to keep unwanted pollution from finding its way into these flowing waters. These efforts have improved the water quality in these waterways but there is still one common way for pollution to get carried into our rivers and streams: through stormwater runoff. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now considers pollution contained in stormwater runoff to be one of the most significant sources of contamination in our nation's waterways. To help reduce stormwater pollution, in 1990 EPA established rules to ensure that larger cities create programs, policies and rules at the local level to minimize stormwater pollution. In the late 1990's, these EPA stormwater rules were applied nationwide to municipalities like ours and other densely populated areas. 

Who Manages the Stormwater?
The City of Elkhart's Stormwater Utility was created in 2006 and has responsibility for operating, maintaining and improving an extensive system of open waterways and enclosed storm sewer pipes. This system contains more than 80 miles of sewer pipes, ditches, and open channels that drain more than 24 square miles. This system exists to collect the stormwater that runs off yards, roofs, streets and parking lots and carry it away from neighborhoods to local waterways or retention ponds.

The Utility must also ensure that Elkhart meets state and federal requirements for improving the quality of stormwater runoff. Because most stormwater receives no treatment before it goes into a stream, lake or river it is important that we keep as many pollutants as possible out of stormwater runoff.

How is Stormwater Management Paid For?
The services of the Stormwater Utility are paid for by a semi-annual fee added to property tax bills. All residential parcels pay $15.00 per year to support the system and non-residential parcels pay $15.00 per 3,600 square feet of impervious land (land with a hard surface that won't absorb stormwater such as driveways, rooftops, and sidewalks). The City's authority for collecting this fee is found in Ordinances 5012 (2/9/2007), 5246 (1/28/2011) and 5319 (11/26/2012).  

 

 

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