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Only Rain in the Storm Drain

Polluted storm water is the Elizabeth River's number one new source of pollution!

One of the most important river actions you can do is reduce runnoff into the river. When it rains, thousands of gallons of water fall onto man made surfaces such as roof tops, roads, sidewalks, patios, driveways and parking lots. These impervious surfaces prevent water from being absorbed by the ground and, instead, take it into storm drains. 

Allowing harmful materials to wash down our storm drains is almost as if we were dumping them directly into our precious river.

Stormwater runoff:

  • is responsible for 19 percent of the total nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and a similar amount in the Elizabeth River.
  • contains sediments, nitrogen, phosphorous, toxic metals, herbicides and pesticides, organic materials, oil compounds, household chemicals and bacterial.
  • can cause fresh kills and other harm to fish and wildlife, destroy aquatic habitats.
  • can contain trash and yard debris that can clog drains and cause localized flooding. This floodwater can spread into yards and carry pollutants including dangerous bacterial where residents work in gardens and children and pets play on the grass.

What You Can Do to Make a Difference:

  • Allow only rain to go down your storm drain! Don't sweep or dump leaves, grass clippings, litter, motor oil or anything else into the river, the street, or your storm drain. In most of Hampton Roads, your storm drains lead directly to the river with no filtering - even if you live blocks away. Motor oil dumped in the storm drain quickly results in river pollution. And while grass and leaves may seem harmless, they decompose in the river to add excess nutrients, which feed algal blooms and rob fish of critical oxygen.
  • Move your car on street-sweeping day. Parked cars reduce the effectiveness of this important effort.
  • Consider gravel, wood mulch or open-design (pervious) pavers. Place your new groundcover on well-drained soil, sand or a gravel bed so that rainwater can soak into the ground. If weeds grow in the places between pavers, consider introducing moss as a natural way to crowd out weeds and make the area more attractive.
  • Consider a "green roof" that is covered with sod and other vegetation.
  • Install storm drain medallions that say "Only rain down the drain!"
  • Make green choices with car maintenance
  • Reward yourself for your stewardship!
  • Make Green Choices with Car Maintenance