Stormwater impacts on Virginia

Water discharging from a storm drain. Photo credit: Neophuket / Shutterstock

One of the most widespread and rampant sources of pollution Virginia’s tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay is urban and suburban stormwater runoff from hard and impervious surfaces like streets, roofs, and parking lots. Stormwater pollution carries a range of contaminants from sediment to bacteria to toxic chemicals that negatively impact local rivers, streams and reservoirs that are sources of drinking water.

Unlike pollution that can controlled at a single source, stormwater management requires a comprehensive solution. That means increasing low impact and transit oriented-development, reducing impervious surfaces and ensuring developers and property owners capture and control stormwater pollution on-site. Effective stormwater pollution cleanup policies will require homeowners and businesses to participate in municipal efforts to keep trash and pollution from washing off street, parking lots and buildings into storm drains and streams. New best management practices (BMPs) help remove or keep pollutants out of the water entering our storm drain systems and slows the water so it does less damage as it flows. These new water management practices, like investing in green infrastructure such as rain gardens, can reduce and even eliminate stormwater pollution.