Public Works

Stormwater Management

National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Program

PUBLIC EDUCATION & OUTREACH

Charlotte County is one of the fastest growing areas in the state. With that growth comes an added burden on our water supply and recreational waterways. Charlotte County citizens must do their part to ensure that our area's growth doesn't spell doom from our precious, yet easily broken environment.

A major contributor to contamination of our waterways is polluted stormwater. Stormwater is rain that has fallen and then flows across the ground and pavement. Some of this flows into ditches and storm sewers. This water then flows directly into streams, rivers, bays and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. As the stormwater flows across pavement, lawns and fields, it picks up pollution (fertilizers, solvents, pesticides, auto fluids) and carries them directly into our waterways. Once there, these pollutants can have very harmful effects.

When polluted stormwater reaches our waterways, it has many long-lasting, negative effects on aquatic plant and animal life. This pollution also impacts other wildlife that use the water or consume the contaminated seafood. This includes humans.

Some of the potential negative effects are:

  • Sediment and other debris clog fish gills, damage fish habitat and block light needed for aquatic plants, such as seagrass beds, to survive
  • Plastic and other types of debris may be stormwater-transported into waterways and can harm marine life 
  • Shellfish become contaminated and inedible

If we don't effectively control this contamination, one of our most valuable resources - our recreational waterways may be irrevocably damaged or lost. Please remember, ditches and storm drains are not connected to the sewer system. They flow directly into streams, lakes, rivers, estuaries, bays, harbors and the Gulf of Mexico with little or no pre-discharge treatment. This means that stormwater is not sanitized or decontaminated before it flows into our waterways. Whatever you put into ditches, street drains and even onto your lawn goes immediately into our recreational waters whenever there is a significant rain. We must all assume accountability for keeping pollutants out of Charlotte County's waters.

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION...DONT POLLUTE

There are many seemingly harmless household activities that actually wreak havoc with our water system.  You can help by implementing your own "Best Management Practices" (BMP's) around the house. BMP's is a general term applicable to any means, practice or technique that aims to significantly reduce or eliminate storm water pollution.

Here are a few outdated practices to watch out for that can cause serious problems to our waterways:

  • Overuse of fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides is a major cause of stormwater pollution. Remember that what you put on your lawn eventually finds its way into our area streams, rivers and bays
  • Improper disposal of automotive fluids such as motor oil, antifreeze, transmission and brake fluid. Don't let them drain onto your driveway or lawn, make sure they are contained and disposed of properly
  • Dumping of collected grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste into ditches, canals or other storm drains. Your garbage hauler will collect those on the proper collection day
  • Draining swimming pools into ditches, canals or directly onto lawns
  • Draining household wastewater from washing machines, dishwashers or water softening devices into ditches or canals

For more information on recycling contact the Solid Waste Division at: 941.764.4380 or Fax at 941.764.4399.

Herbicides-Pesticides
These materials are used to control unwanted or nuisance insects and plants. Excessive use of these materials results in their being washed into stormwater runoffs. They are carried into our lakes, streams and estuaries where they cause undesirable results. When using these materials the best practice is to use the least toxic chemical that will do the job. And always follow the label instructions.

Motor Oil
Proper disposal of motor oil is also very helpful in keeping unwanted discharges out of our storm sewers. For a list of collection points where used motor oil can be dropped off or how it may be collected, or for more information on recycling contact the Solid Waste Division at: 941.764.4380 or Fax at 941.764.4399.

Trash Management
Trash and floating debris in waterways have become significant pollutants, especially in areas where a large volume of trash is generated in a concentrated area. Trash in water bodies contributes to visual pollution and detracts from the aesthetic qualities of the landscape. It also poses a threat to wildlife and human health (e.g., choking hazards to wildlife and bacteria to humans). Additionally, trash and debris can clog the intake valves on boat engines, which results in expensive repairs.

Lawn and Garden Activities
Lawn and garden activities can result in contamination of storm water through pesticide, soil, and fertilizer runoff. Proper landscape management, however, can effectively reduce water use and contaminant runoff and enhance the aesthetics of a property. Environmentally friendly landscape management can protect the environment through careful planning and design, routine soil analysis, appropriate plant selection, use of practical turf areas, water use efficiency, use of mulches, and appropriate maintenance.

Additional activities that benefit water resources include maintaining healthy plants and lawns and composting lawn wastes. Healthy plants are less susceptible to diseases and insects and therefore require minimal use of pest control measures. To promote healthy plants, it is often beneficial to till composted material into the soil. Recycling of garden wastes by composting is also effective at reducing waste, although compost bins and piles should not be located next to waterways or storm drains because leachate from compost materials can cause contamination.

Water Efficient Landscaping
Learn more about the benefits of water-efficient, low-impact landscaping. Find examples of successful projects, programs, and contacts at this site.

Proper Disposal of Household Hazardous Wastes
Many products found in homes contain chemical ingredients that are potentially harmful to people and to the environment. Chemicals such as oven cleaners, paint removers, insecticides, solvents, and drain cleaners are just a few common hazardous products found in many homes. Over the last 20 years, concern about the disposal of such products has been growing. In 1976, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed. This legislation regulates the procedures governing the generation, storage, transport, treatment, and disposal of hazardous materials. Although this Act has mitigated some of the problems associated with commercial hazardous material disposal, more efforts are needed to reduce and properly dispose of those types of materials commonly found in homes.

Common Household Hazardous Products Include The Following:

  • Cleaning products: oven cleaner, floor wax, furniture polish, drain cleaner, and spot remover
  • Car care and maintenance: motor oil, battery acid, gasoline, car wax, engine cleaner, antifreeze, degreaser, radiator flush, and rust preventative
  • Home improvement products: paints, preservatives, strippers, brush cleaners, and solvents
  • Other products labeled toxic, flammable, or corrosive, or containing lye, phenols, petroleum distillates, or trichlorobenzene

For more information on proper disposal of household hazardous waste and residential Sharps disposal program contact the Solid Waste Division at: 941.764.4380 or Fax at 941.764.4399.

Small Quantity Generators
Many businesses, both large and small use hazardous materials in their processes. Some of these processes produce wastes, a portion which may require special handling or disposal. The method a business manager employs to manage hazardous waste will have a direct influence on business profits and future liabilities for the property, the business, and its owners.

If you are a business owner and would like information on how to properly dispose of your business generated hazardous waste, please contact the Solid Waste Division at: 941.764.4380 or Fax at 941.764.4399.

Review Small Quantity Generator requirements.

Storm Water Educational Materials Available
Charlotte County's Identifying Illicit Stormwater Discharge Handbook

Where Does All the Dirty Water Go?
This brochure raises citizen's awareness of the importance of wastewater, explains the basics of wastewater treatment, and contains helpful hints for homeowners about what not to put into the sanitary sewer system.

Take the Stormwater Runoff Challenge
Provides a fun learning opportunity for middle school children and can be used to generate classroom discussion or further exploration of water pollution issues.

Kid's Posters: How Do We Treat Our Wastewater?
This attractive children's poster fully illustrates how wastewater is generated and treated. A lesson plan for middle school classes is on the reverse side of this poster. A black-and-white version that younger children can color is also available. A lesson plan for grade school classes is on the reverse side of this poster.

Benefits of Protecting Your Community from Sanitary Sewer Overflows
This brochure outlines the benefits of controlling sanitary sewer overflows, which include healthier communities, an increase in the number of waterfront visitors, and satisfied taxpayers.

Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems
This short brochure is based on the booklet above.

After the Storm
Provides a broad overview of stormwater pollution, including runoff from residential and commercial properties, farms, construction sites, automotive facilities, forestry operations, and others.

Protecting Water Quality from Urban Runoff
This fact sheet explains how urbanized areas affect water quality through increased runoff and pollutant loads and what homeowners can do to prevent stormwater pollution.

Water Conservation Practices for Homeowners
The greatest benefit of water conservation in the home is cost savings. By reducing the amount of water used, monthly water bills are reduced. If homes are served by septic systems, reducing water use reduces the amount of wastewater to be treated, thereby minimizing strain on the system and improving pollutant removal performance. Here are some helpful water conservation practices that can help conserve water resources and save homeowners money:

  • Run the dishwasher and laundry machines only with full loads. Use the shortest wash and rinse cycles and the lowest water level setting possible. Avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an additional 10 to 20 gallons of water.
  • When hand-washing dishes, do not let the water run continuously.
  • Avoid using garbage disposal system.
  • When buying a new washing machine, choose a suds-saver model.
  • In the bathrooms, place two half-gallon plastic bottles filled with water in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of flush water used.
  • Take shorter showers and use a water-conserving showerhead (less  than 2.5 gallons per minute) rather than taking baths, which use 30 to 50 gallons of water.
  • When shaving, brushing teeth, or washing your face, do not let the water run continuously.
  • Water the lawn only when absolutely necessary. More water is consumed using sprinkler and irrigation systems than if a hand-held hose is used (International Turf Producers Foundation, no date). (Trickle irrigation systems and soaker hoses are 20 percent more efficient than sprinklers.)
  • Water lawns only during the coolest time of day to avoid evaporation of the water.

To learn more about additional Stormwater Management efforts by Charlotte County, visit:

Charlotte County Stormwater Management

Charlotte County Water Quality Monitoring Program