What is Stormwater Pollution?
The storm drain system consists of gutters, storm drains, and channels. Most of our rainwater travels through the storm drain system and eventually into the Whitewater Channel. The largest source of stormwater pollution in the Coachella Valley results from every day activities. The most common pollutants are:
- Trash (fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts, styrofoam cups, etc.)
- Toxins (used motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizer, pesticides, sewage overflow, pet droppings, etc.)
These pollutants are picked up as water (from rain, hoses, sprinklers, etc.) drains from streets, parking lots, and lawns and enters the Whitewater Channel untreated.
Basically, anything dumped or dropped on the ground or in the gutter contributes to stormwater pollution.
Water Wasting By Over Irrigation
Over irrigation is a big problem in the City which is flat and has very few storm drain inlets to carry water off the streets. The City is enforcing its regulations through a Water Waster Notification Program. Violators are warned regarding excess run-off and water wasting. Run-off from over irrigation is a violation of the City’s NPDES (stormwater) and Landscaping and Water Conservation Ordinances and guidelines. Water Wasters will not only be warned but also penalized when the new tired system for water billing is in place in the fall of 2009.
Is Stormwater Treated Before Entering the Whitewater Channel?
No. During a storm event, water run-off is carried by the Indio storm drain system directly into the Whitewater Channel. Contaminated stormwater receives no treatment because of the sheer volume of run-off when it rains. The cost of treating Indio’s stormwater would be so high that it would exceed available resources. In addition the City does not own the wastewater treatment plants for the city and has no way of treating this run off.
Is There a Difference Between a Storm Sewer and a Sanitary Sewer?
Yes. The sanitary sewer and the storm sewer are two completely separate drainage systems.
The sewer system, or sanitary wastewater system, takes all household wastewater from toilets, showers and sinks, and routes it through the collection system into the one of two water treatment facilities. Once there, it receives three levels of filtration treatment before being discharged into the Whitewater Channel.
The stormwater system, on the other hand, was intended to route rainwater quickly off the streets during a heavy storm, but unfortunately takes all urban run-off along with it. Chemicals, trash and debris from lawns, parking lots and streets, either intentionally or accidentally spilled, goes straight into the Whitewater Channel and ultimately filtrates into our groundwater.
What Are the Effects of Stormwater Pollution?
Health: Stormwater pollution can pose a serious health risk to people due to pesticides, bacteria, and chemicals that are washed from our city streets and into the Stormwater. For more information about stormwater pollution and what you can do about it, please visit The Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District NPDES website.
Neighborhoods: Clogged catch basins significantly decrease the quality of life in many neighborhoods throughout Indio. Trash and debris can attract rats and cockroaches, create foul odors, and clog the storm drain system affecting neighborhood aesthetics and may cause local flooding.