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    Illicit Discharge

    What is it?

    Illicit discharge is any discharge (i.e. accidental or intentional spill, release or dumping) into a storm drain system that is not entirely stormwater. It includes chemicals, trash, pet waste, lawn clippings, and even the water used for washing cars.

    When does it happen?

    Illicit discharge often happens when septic tanks leak, household oil and chemicals are disposed of improperly, swimming pool water is not discharged through the sanitary sewer system, waste is dumped illegally, and chemicals spill into storm drains.

    Why is this important?

    Some people think storm drains get filtered, but they don't. They drain right into drainage basins and rivers. Fire fighters use toxic materials, which join runoff water and flow to storm drains. Illicit discharge is not treated for pollutants, so it often contains chemicals, pesticides, animal waste, and other materials that can harm aquatic life and human health. Identification and elimination of illicit discharges is necessary to protect our water resources and prevent water-borne illness.

    How can you identify illicit discharge?

    Illicit discharge is present when you see any of the following conditions:

    • Water flowing from storm pipes during dry weather
    • Color in waterways
    • Water cloudiness
    • Floaties in the water such as particles, oil sheen, or suds
    • Chemical or septic like odors

    How Can You Help?

    • Do your part to prevent untreated runoff-including agricultural runoff-from entering the waterways.
    • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste. Never dump items such as motor oil, fuels, paints, cement, cleansers, and pesticides on the ground or down the drain.
    • Use environmentally friendly soaps when washing your vehicles.
    • Discharge pool water through the sanitary sewer.
    • Maintain septic systems in order to prevent leakage.
    • Check fuel storage tanks regularly for leaks.
    • Properly close abandoned wells.
    • Wash cars away from storm drains
    • Dispose of pet waste in a toilet or trash can.
    • Compost grass clippings and leaves.
    • Apply lawn chemicals only as needed. Follow the directions on the container.
    • Consider installing a rain barrel at the end of a downspout to reduce the amount of stormwater leaving your property. This will reduce the amount of fertilizer, pesticide, and road salt that ends up in our waterways. This collected rain can help reduce the amount of water you need to purchase from municipal sources for watering gardens and lawns, for filling fountains and extinguishing campfires. Just be sure there is no exposed standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
    • Incorporate "green infrastructure" practices such as pervious pavers, bioswales, and landscaping with plants native to the area.
    • When you notice a strong chemical odor near a stormwater inlet or outfall, when you see someone dumping suspicious substances into drains or into a body of water, when you see sewage on the ground surface, call the Kalamazoo County's 24-hour water pollution hotline, 269-381-3171. Be prepared to give the location of the complaint, the source of the pollution if known, and the responsible party if known.

    TOPIC 3: Educate the Public on Illicit Discharges and Promote Public Reporting of Discharges and Improper Disposal of Materials in Water.

    There's so much mort to learn! Please visit the websites of all our KSWG partner's on this page above!

    Illicit Discharge Brochure (to print)

    Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste

    Red Med Boxes

    Miss DIG

    mission statement

    Mission Statement

    The Kalamazoo Stormwater Working Group (KSWG) is a collaborative effort of outreach and education for our interconnected Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (or MS4s) in the Kalamazoo County area.

    Rain falls and snow melts across hard and impervious surfaces that do not allow water to soak into the ground. The water flows to storm sewers or catch basins which direct it to a natural surface water body such as a wetland, river, pond or lake. Stormwater runoff carries salts, grass clippings, sediment, fertilizer, oils, pet waste, and other material left on driveways and sidewalks into the catch basins, and unfortunately they eventually drain to our natural water bodies.
    KSWG partners work together to protect against harmful discharges to the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries:

    Kalamazoo River Corridor
    Portage-Arcadia Creek
    Axtell Creek
    Gull-Augusta Creek
    Davis Creek/Olmstead Drain
    Gourdneck Creek
    Portage Creek

    As well as discharges to the St. Joseph River:
    Portage River
    Rocky River
    And the Paw Paw River.

    Improving the quality of our local natural water bodies that citizens recreate in and enjoy for their beauty, habitats, wildlife and plant life is our goal. The water quality within the county's water resources affect the natural water bodies downstream as well. These are just a few: Austin Lake, Duck Lake, Gull Lake, Lake Allegan, Nottawa Creek, Asylum lake, Woods lake, David Creek, Morrow Lake, Twins lake, Atwater Millpond, Paw Paw Lake, Eagle Lake, Crooked Lake, and Indian Lake.

    Only with everyone's collaboration can we achieve KSWG's goals! So please use our links above to join us in our efforts to be stewards of our natural surface water resources by preventing harmful discharges to our municipal stormwater drainage systems.