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NPDES Phase II
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Phase II Overview
Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities. As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.

Point Sources
Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge, do not need an NPDES permit. However, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

In Illinois, the NPDES permit program is administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our nation's water quality.

Permits for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s)
Under the NPDES stormwater program, operators of large, medium, and regulated small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) require authorization to discharge pollutants under an NPDES permit. The Village of Elburn is considered a "small MS4" in this program and is required to file a Notice of Intent with the Illinois EPA, outlining a five-year program for how the village will comply with the program requirements of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

Stormwater
Water is our most precious resource. The increased demand placed on our ecosystem by altering the natural landscape has resulted in increased areas of impervious materials, such as asphalt and concrete. The stormwater runoff carries off pollution into our streams, ponds, and lakes. As a result of this additional stress, we need to be more aware of how we treat our surroundings.

In 1987, amendments were made to the Clean Water Act requiring municipalities to obtain a permit from the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This permit, commonly referred to as "NPDES Phase II", requires municipalities the size of Elburn to meet specific requirements for storm water discharge. Storm Water Phase II regulations are placed on municipalities that are located in urban areas as defined by the Census Bureau. These municipalities are required to obtain a permit from the State of Illinois for the discharges from their municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4).

The Problem With Stormwater Runoff
Today, non-point source pollution remains the nation's leading source of water quality problems. Approximately 40 percent of surveyed rivers, streams, lakes, and estuaries are not clean enough to meet requirements for basic uses such as fishing or swimming. This is because of stormwater. Storm water runoff is the most common cause of water pollution. As rainwater, snowmelt, and irrigation water runs off streets, lawns, farms, and construction sites, it picks up dirt, oil and grease, fertilizers, pesticides, and many other chemicals and pollutants and carries it back into surface bodies of water. These pollutants can eventually end up contaminating groundwater supplies and our drinking water.

Stormwater Pollution
Stormwater runoff is unlike many point source causes of water pollution. Storm water pollution is caused by so many different activities, it is impossible to control with traditional regulatory policies. Many activities contribute to storm water pollution including: agriculture, forestry, animal grazing, recreational boating, urban runoff, and construction. Everyone can play a role in reducing pollution caused from stormwater runoff making education and outreach vital components to any successful stormwater pollution prevention program.

Stormwater is defined as “runoff water resulting from precipitation”. It can contain a variety of pollutants that can harm and hamper our environment to a greater degree than was previously thought. Everything from oil spills, gasoline dripping from a nozzle, improperly applied pesticides / herbicides, water runoff from washing a car or truck, it all eventually ends up in our local waterways. In time, these pollutants find their way into larger waterways like Welch Creek, Blackberry Creek, Fox River, Illinois River, Mississippi River, and eventually, the Gulf of Mexico.

Our ecosystem is a circular one, as depicted in the diagram above. Since matter is neither created nor destroyed, we have to reuse our most precious resource, water. The water that rains down on us picks up pollutants and deposits them in our waterways before it evaporates back into the clouds. When it does so, it increases the pollutant concentration in our waterways, as the pollutants do not evaporate, but accumulate instead.

Impacts of Runoff Waste
Impervious media such as asphalt and concrete that accompany urban areas create problems with the water from precipitation recycling through our ecosystem. The water runs off too fast for natural evaporation / transportation and/or groundwater recharge to take place. In the process of running off, the water picks up the oils and other pollutants that are on the paved surfaces. Even something as simple as pet waste left on a sidewalk makes an impact on the waters around us.

The Village of Elburn has a large and complex piping system to handle our rain water. This includes underground systems as well as above ground ditches, culverts, streams, and creeks. Whenever you see water flowing during a storm, that water, along with anything it carries, will end up in our stormwater ponds and eventually flow into the Fox River.

Stormwater picks up any and all pollutants that are on the ground when it precipitates. Chemicals, debris, dirt, and other pollutants flow with stormwater into either a storm sewer system or directly into lakes, streams, creeks, rivers, and eventually the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the water bodies we use for swimming, fishing, and for providing drinking water.

Excess Nutrients (Fertilizers)
Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms to grow out of control. When these blooms die, they decompose on the bottom of the waterway and stormwater ponds. While decomposing, they use up large amounts of oxygen in the process, which in turn kills fish and other aquatic life forms that need oxygen to survive. Simple things like following the directions on fertilizer products and fertilizing your lawn in the fall instead of the spring can make a big impact on the health of our stormwater ponds.

Fall fertilization is superior for a few reasons:
  • The amount of rain in the spring is much greater, taking more of the fertilizer with it into the waterways and less stays on your lawn.
  • Disease and weed problems are usually less severe when fall and late fall fertilization are practiced.
  • Heat and drought tolerance are usually better, enhancing the summer lawn quality.
  • Grass plant produces more root mass and a deeper root system which results in an overall healthier plant.

Sediment
Excess sediment is a serious pollutant. When it enters our streams and creeks, it clouds the water. This clouding prevents plant life from getting sunlight, without which they die. Sediment can also clog fish gills and kill them. Vegetative buffers act as a filter, slowing stormwater flow and allowing groundwater penetration. This will also prevent the loss of topsoil, stop erosion, and prevent the accumulation of sediment in stormwater ponds.

Household Chemicals
Insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvent, used motor oil, and other fluids can poison and kill aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.

Debris
Bags, bottles, plastic six-pack rings, and even cigarette butts washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate, and disable aquatic life such as ducks, fish, turtles, and birds. The number one thing people can do to help protect our waterways is stop polluting!

Drinking Water
Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. Even though the Village of Elburn receives its drinking water from deep wells, that water was once stormwater. Polluted stormwater can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.

Contaminated Drinking Water
Many communities use surface water, such as rivers or lakes, as their primary water source. Discharging pollutants into surface waterways will eventually bring those pollutants back into our bodies. The water we drink today has been around for millions of years. Over time, nature can filter out pollutants and impurities. If the system is overloaded, then it takes longer for the water to be cleaned. Our impact on this filtration system is huge, and it is killing our aquatic system. Each individual needs to take an active part in preventing our waters from being polluted in the first place.

Bacteria and Other Pathogens
Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary. Please remember that ditches and storm drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer system. Whatever is put into our ditches, street drains, and even onto your lawn flows immediately into our waterways whenever there is a significant rain event. We must all assume accountability for keeping pollutants out of our waters.

Mosquito Breeding
Clogged and stagnant waterways give mosquitoes more places to breed. Many types of mosquitoes that can spread diseases to humans prefer to breed in polluted water. From destroying the local habitats of wildlife to spreading possible diseases, stormwater pollution is a problem that has a wide scope of consequences

Preventing Stormwater Runoff Pollution
Here is a list of things you can do to prevent stormwater runoff pollution:
  • Never dump anything down our storm water drains or into streams.
  • Do not overuse fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides as they are a major cause of stormwater pollution. Remember that what you put on your lawn eventually finds its way into our area swales, creeks, ponds, and rivers. Use fertilizers and herbicides sparingly.
  • Plant vegetation or use mulch to cover bare spots in your yard to prevent soil erosion.
  • Do not dump your collected leaves, grass clippings and other yard wastes into ditches, culverts, streets, or other storm drains. Compost or bag your yard waste; Waste Management will haul them away on collection day (Wednesdays).
  • Use less toxic pesticides, follow label instructions, and learn how to prevent pest problems from the USEPA.
  • Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces; allow the rain water to soak into the ground or consider a rain garden to capture runoff.
  • Take your car to a car wash instead of washing it in the driveway.
  • Check your car for fluid leaks and recycle your used motor oil.
  • Pick up after your pet (pet waste is responsible for over 40% of the fecal contamination polluting our waterways).
  • Have your septic tank pumped on a regular basis.

Call the Village of Elburn Public Works at 630-365-5064 to report violations.