What is carried by rainwater as it hits your roof, runs across your property into a city street, runs along gutter lines and enters the city's storm sewer is a major concern for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, according to Steve Lee, street superintendent.
Among the common pollutants found in stormwater are litter, which includes everything from cigarette butts to plastic bags; chemical pollution such as detergents and oil; and even decaying vegetation and animal waste.
Unlike sanitary sewers, storm sewers do not go to treatment facilities but drain directly into ditches and streams, eventually ending up in larger bodies of water. "The Mississippi River is a source of drinking water for a lot of communities," Lee said.
Accordingly, the city is required to carry a stormwater permit with the DNR and has maintained stormwater ordinances, guidelines and requirements since 1983. "The program was developed to educate, promote and enforce the prevention of pollution to our stormwater system and waterways," Lee said.
New city regulations will go into effect soon as there are new requirements for the city.
"Now we're required to submit an annual report and prove what we do," Lee said. "DNR also now requires the city to have a five-year storm water plan."
In March, the city submitted its first five-year plan. A storm water advisory board was also formed at this time to review the city's ordinances and determine what modifications are needed.
"DNR requires six minimum control measures," Lee said. Among these are the requirement for public education and outreach along with public involvement and participation.
Lee said the city will soon add an informational Web site on the Sikeston Stormwater Program "to make the public aware that the city of Sikeston will be evaluating its stormwater program." This site will be available via a link from the city's Web site at www.sikeston.org.
Included on this site will be information about the importance of stormwater quality, what the city is doing, and how citizens can help prevent stormwater pollution.
Some of the things residents can do to help control stormwater pollution should be obvious: never pour used oil, paint thinners or other household hazardous wastes into gutters or storm drains.
Others are less obvious but just as important: Don't discharge grass clippings into the street when mowing as clippings often are full of pesticides, fertilizers and pet wastes. Wash your car on the lawn instead of the driveway.
"We want the water to be as clean as possible as it enters the ditches and streams," Lee said. "The city is in good shape. We just want to improve. It is important to the city as well as DNR to have a top-notch storm water program."