Why do we treat Stormwater? What is the big deal?

Polluted Stormwater systems is the second highest contributor to water pollution today. Harmful chemicals and waste are washed into our waterways through surface runoff and, if untreated, can cause irreversible harm to our environment and the marine life that exists in it. Heavy metals, plastic waste, harmful chemicals, nutrients and organic material, heavy sediment loads, oils and grease all seep into out waterways without any form of defense. Stormwater treatment is the only solution to preventing this water pollution and protecting our marine life and ecosystems.

Storm water is water that is produced from rain, and possibly melting snow and ice, which flows over solid surfaces, capturing gross pollutants, sedimentation, nutrients, heavy metals and a wide range of other pollutants. The majority of this water infiltrates into the soil, or evaporated or run off and enter nearby waterways. In natural areas, free from construction, buildings, motorways and agriculture etc. the water just soaks and absorbs into the soil or evaporates. In developed areas, not only does the range and concentrations of pollutants grow and grow, but the areas in which the water is usually absorbed or evaporated is removed, the storm water is funneled through stormwater drainage systems and directly into our rivers, streams and waterways. The natural processes of stormwater removal such as infiltration evaporation and filtering are greatly reduced, causing the concentrations and size of pollutants entering our waterways to drastically increase.

Stormwater treatment and management is about protecting our environment. When we develop stormwater treatment systems we are designing ways in which to protect our environment, and rid our environment and ecosystems of pollution and contamination. Hence the need for these systems is vital for our environment and ecosystems health and prolonged life. From gross pollutant traps which remove larger plastics, debris and sedimentation from our waterways, keeping our oceanic and water ecosystems protected from the well-known dangers of  ocean and marine life coming into contact with plastics, to our tertiary treatments to remove heavy metals, organic nutrients and colloidal fine particles from our water systems and prevent from poisoning the environment. If the management of stormwater is conducted properly, with effective and efficient technologies in place, we can improve our water ecosystems and effectively lengthen our environments life.

Not only does proper stormwater treatment and management protect our environment, it also has several other benefits that are less widely known. These management systems can reduce flooding to protect people’s lives and properties, reduce the demand on public stormwater drainage systems, support healthy streams and rivers, and create healthier, more sustainable and viable communities. Effective stormwater management provides not only vital environmental benefits, it also provides social, economic and communal benefits.

It’s important in society to maintain a clear image of the bigger picture. As our society continues to grow in population and city size, we increase the area covered by impervious and non –absorbent surfaces that do not allow infiltration and absorption and in turn increase the amount of polluted runoff.  We must continue to implement these stormwater treatment technologies not for just the current benefit, but also for the future and more vital benefits.

So it is a Big Deal. It is Important, it is vital, it is necessary. Stormwater treatment and management is a must as we continue to develop and grow.

Written by Nathan D. Raco, in partnership with ProtectorStormwater management Solutions