Municipal separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)
The Town of Vestal is one of fifteen government entities in Broome and Tioga Counties that have been designated as Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems otherwise known as MS4s under the federal law commonly known as Stormwater Phase II. Because of this the municipalities need to comply with the following six minimum measures that make up Stormwater Management Plans, to be covered under the SPDES Permit GP -0-10-002:
MM1: Public Education and Outreach
MM2: Public Participation and Involvement
MM3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE)
MM4: Construction Site Runoff Control
MM5: Post Construction Runoff Control
MM6: Municipal Good Housekeeping
Each Municipality must prepare and implement a Stormwater Management Program to comply with state and federal regulations. It has been recognized that watersheds and separate storm sewer systems cross municipal boundaries and that collaborative efforts addressing local stormwater issues saves time, money and energy. As a result, the MS4s entered into an agreement to form the Broome – Tioga Stormwater Coalition and work together to address local stormwater issues and meet the state and federal stormwater requirements.
The Town of Vestal has been involved in the following public outreach programs related to stormwater management:
- Branches are picked up and ground from April to September (weather permitting)
- Wood chips from branches picked up and ground available to residents at the Town Highway Barn for landscaping at no charge.
- Fall leaves are collected and mulched through the winter At the Town’s Highway Department.
- Leaf mulch is available to residents at the Town Highway Barn that can be used for organic gardening and landscaping at no charge.
- The roads are cleaned in the spring of the winter debris which is recycled and reused.
- Annual postings from Broome County in regards to hazardous waste disposal are available.
- Broome County electronics disposal information is available through the town.
- 1000 storm sewer markers have been purchased and are in the process of being installed on or near catch basins.
What is stormwater?
Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas, bare soil, and sloped lawns. As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports soil, animal waste, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, oil and grease, debris and other potential pollutants.
What's the problem?
Rain and snowmelt wash pollutants from streets, construction sites, and land into storm sewers and ditches. Eventually, the storm sewers and ditches empty the polluted stormwater directly into streams and rivers with no treatment. This is known as stormwater pollution.
Polluted stormwater degrades our lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waterways. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen can cause the overgrowth of algae resulting in oxygen depletion in waterways. Toxic substances from motor vehicles, and careless application of pesticides and fertilizers threaten water quality and can kill fish and other aquatic life. Bacteria from animal wastes and improper connections to storm sewer systems can make lakes and waterways unsafe for wading, swimming and fish consumption. Eroded soil is a pollutant as well. It clouds the waterway and interferes with the habitat of fish and plant life.
A sanitary sewer system and a storm sewer system are not the same.
Water that goes down a sink or other inside drain flows to either a wastewater treatment plant or to a septic system for treatment. Storm sewer flows are not treated. Water that flows down driveways, streets, and outside areas and into a storm sewer or ditch flows directly to the nearest creek, fish and wildlife habitats, downstream recreational areas, and drinking water supplies.
There are many types of pollutants that find their way into storm drains.
Some common pollutants found in storm sewers and creeks include:
- Motor oil
- Yard clippings
- Fertilizers and pesticides
- Soapy car wash water
- Eroded sediment from construction projects
- Animal waste
It's important to remember that any type of surface water runoff, not just rainfall, can run into the storm sewer and collect in the stormwater management system. For example, when you wash your car on the driveway, that water ends up in the system. That's why we need to be careful with what we put into the storm sewers as traces of all this material can end up in the stormwater system and our local waterways.