Water, Sewer & Stormwater

City of Aiken Stormwater

The City of Aiken has developed a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) in an effort to reduce stormwater pollution. The Program is intended to address the requirements of the South Carolina General Permit for Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (SMS4s) mandated by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).

When rain flows over streets and other surfaces, it picks up pollutants and carries them into the stormwater conveyance “storm drain” system.

Did you know that storm drains are NOT connected to sanitary sewer systems and treatment plants?

The storm drain system is designed to prevent flooding by transporting water away from developed areas.

However, this water is not filtered or treated, and all the contaminants it contains eventually flow to our streams, lakes, and ocean where we swim and fish.

Once there, polluted runoff can harm wildlife and habitats. In some cases, it can even cause beach closures or make fish and shellfish unsafe to eat.

Why is Stormwater a Problem?

Across the U.S., unmanaged stormwater runoff has caused serious damage to streams, lakes and estuaries, particularly where land uses change from rural to urban activities.

Poorly managed stormwater causes three big problems:

  • Pollution from stormwater contaminates our waters, closes local businesses, and harms or kills fish and other wildlife. As stormwater passes over developed land, it picks up pollutants and transports them to the nearest storm drain and eventually rivers, streams, and ponds.
  • Flooding harms streams and wetlands and destroys habitat needed for fish and other wildlife. Unable to soak into the ground, stormwater quickly flows or floods downstream from developed land during the rainy season. As a result, floods can damage homes and businesses, flood septic system drain fields and overwhelm streams, wetlands, and wildlife habitat.
  • Water shortages in growing communities may occur, especially in developed areas with impervious surfaces or areas where water cannot filtrate through, such as roads, parking lots and rooftops. The impervious surfaces keep rainfall from soaking into the ground and replenishing groundwater and streams used for drinking water or fish habitat.

Why Do We Need Clean Water?

Clean water is essential for every aspect of life. In addition to sustaining our local water resources it ensures economic growth and prosperity. Population growth has impacted water quality and placed increasing pressure to supplies.

How You Can Help Keep Our Water Clean

Easy Steps to Clean Water:

  • Sweep or Rake – Conserve water. Do not use a hose to wash off sidewalks, driveways, and patios. Sweep up debris and put it in a trash can. Rake up yard waste to compost or recycle.
  • Reduce the Use of Landscape Chemicals – Decrease the use of lawn and garden care products such as pesticides, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers. Consider using non-toxic pest control methods. Avoid over watering which may wash these products into the gutter and storm drains.
  • Buy Non-Toxic Products – When possible, use non-toxic products for household cleaning. If you must use a toxic cleaning product, buy small quantities, use it sparingly, and properly dispose of unused portions.
  • Recycle Used Motor Oil and Earn Money – Certified used oil collection centers will pay a few cents per gallon for used oil. Collect used oil in sealed containers and take it to a certified center. For the certified center nearest you, call 1-800 CLEANUP or 1-800-253-2687.
  • Dispose of Yard Waste Frequently – By disposing of grass, leaves, shrubs, and other organic matter more frequently – less will wash into storm drains. Request a green waste bin from your trash hauler, or compost your yard waste.
  • Clean Up After Your Pets – Take a bag when you walk your pets and always clean up after them. Flush pet waste down the toilet or dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag and throw it in the trash. Also, make sure fences and other structures are keeping cows, horses and other animals out of streams. Compost manure in a designated area so that it doesn’t wash off into nearby waterways.
  • Care for Your Vehicles – Change your oil routinely. Fix fluid leaks immediately. Keep your vehicles tuned-up. Wash your vehicle at home on an unpaved area, such as lawn or gravel. Use very little soap. Pour remaining soapy water to an indoor sink or toilet. Consider using a car wash designed to collect the wash water.
  • Maintain Your Septic System – If you are on a septic system, maintain the system. Septic systems require regular inspections, maintenance, and pumping, or they will fail, cost a lot of money to fix and could pollute nearby lakes and streams. Have a professional inspector check your system regularly and have it pumped out when needed.
  • Be Supportive – Support your local storm/surface water program. Programs to maintain a community’s stormwater system, prevent flooding and protect natural resources may cost money in the short run but save money for damages to public and private property in the long term. Take advantage of opportunities to educate yourself and your family about your local watershed. Consider volunteering for stream restoration or other local volunteer project.

Just Say “Neigh” to Water Pollution!

No matter where you live, you live in a watershed. A watershed is more than just the flood plain around a river. It also includes the surfaces around our homes that drain into a common river, lake, or bay. What you and your horses and livestock do affects everyone in your watershed – plants, people, and other animals.

Horse and livestock wastes are among the many common stormwater pollutants that can degrade water quality. Stormwater runoff from livestock waste has been found to contain high concentrations of pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses. When they wash into our recreational waters they can make people sick with sore throats, intestinal problems, rashes, nausea, and eye or ear infections. Manure also contains nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen that fertilize aquatic algae blooms and promote bacterial growth which can degrade water quality.

The City of Aiken encourages horse and livestock owners to stay informed of the compliance requirements so that clean water standards can be reached.

Helpful Tips:

  • Put barns, corrals, and paddocks in areas away from drainage areas.
  • Design wash racks so that rinse water does not drain off your property.
  • Collect soiled bedding and manure from stalls and paddocks daily, and store in sturdy containers that do not leak.
  • Use plants to absorb some runoff and to prevent erosion around pastures and stables, and near stream banks.
  • Dirt is natural, but too much clogs streams. Cover and berm exposed dirt piles.
  • Shelter animals away from streams and areas where runoff can carry manure with rainfall.
  • Composting manure can make a useful project! Be sure to keep compost away from rivers, streams and creeks. For composting information, call 1-877-R-EARTH – OR – 1-877-713-2784.
  • Use less toxic materials like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) products for mosquito control and fly traps or strips to control flies.
  • If you must use pesticides, always read and follow the label directions.
  • You can help by working with others to keep trails free of trash, litter, and debris.