Stormwater Pollution

When you think of pollution in our coastal waters,
what comes to your mind?
Pollution from
Industry? Vehicle emissions? Sewage treatment
plants? Surprisingly, the leading cause of water
pollution comes from general sources of pollution or
“non-point sources” such as lawn fertilizers,
pesticides, automotive fluids, litter, human and
animal wastes, sediment, nutrients, and many more
stormwater runoff pollutants. These pollutants are
washed off the ground and streets by rainwater and
flow as runoff into our rivers, lakes, streams, and
eventually into the gulf. Such pollution can threaten
human health; contaminate drinking water; lead to
fish kills; result in the loss of spawning areas for
aquatic species; cause the loss of aesthetic value
of streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans; and lead to
the loss of recreational value of our coastal
Although each person’s contribution may not seem
like much, the total effect has become a major
pollution problem. The water that enters the storm
drains is not filtered in any way before it heads to
the nearest receiving waters. For The City of
Foley’s residents, storm sewer systems drain
directly into tributaries of the Bon Secour River or
tributaries of the river. These storm sewer systems
are needed in municipal areas due to the increased
percentage of impervious surfaces such as rooftops
and pavement which cause a city block to produce
almost 10 times more runoff or “stormwater” than a
wooded area of the same size (Environmental
Protection Agency). Stormwater is the water which
does not infiltrate the ground but instead it travels
across the surface into the nearest waterbody,
taking with it any pollutants that may be present
(non-point source pollutants).
The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, the City
of Foley and City of Gulf Shores are sponsoring a
watershed project to help better characterize the
Bon Secour River and the Oyster Bay Watersheds
and identify areas of water quality concerns – one of
which is stormwater runoff. The entities are working
hard to develop a comprehensive watershed plan to
improve the overall health of the watershed. The
general public and all stakeholders in these
watersheds are encouraged participate in the
planning process.
The Watershed Planning approach will follow EPA
guidance and address key elements and values
deemed important to coastal Alabama. The project is
designed to address issues such as the following:
Improved Water Quality and Biological Health;
Green Infrastructure Planning and Education;
Shoreline and Streambank Stabilization;
Environmental Awareness;
Groundwater and Flooding Issues;
Non-point Source Pollution; and
Stakeholders Concerns.
An increased percentage of impervious surfaces such as rooftops and pavement can cause a city block to
produce almost 10 times more stormwater runoff than a wooded area of the same size. (Source: U.S. EPA)
To be engaged in the watershed planning process, please attend one of the community meetings in
December - - Civic Center in Foley on Wednesday, 12/2/15 at 5pm or the Gulf Shores Activity Center in Gulf
Shores on Thursday 12/3/15 at 5pm.
Even if you are unable to attend the meetings, you can make a difference every day. Below are some tips
you can follow to help the City of Foley in its effort to reduce stormwater pollution:
Never pour unwanted chemicals on the ground.
Follow the instructions when using fertilizers and pesticides.
Dispose of excess fertilizers and pesticides at hazardous waste collection centers.
Do not over-water your lawn or garden. Over-watering may increase leaching of fertilizers to ground
Wash your car only when necessary; use a bucket to save water and try a phosphorus-free
detergent. Alternatively, go to a commercial carwash that uses water efficiently and disposes of runoff
Clean up after your pets. Pet waste contains nutrients and pathogens that can contaminate surface
Recycle used oil and antifreeze by taking them to service stations and other recycling centers. Never
put used oil or other chemicals down storm drains or in drainage ditches. One quart of oil can
contaminate up to two million gallons of drinking water!