The Effects of Storm Water Pollution on Cedar Creek

Part of our quarterly Storm Water Series by Todd Sattison, WPC Program Coordinator

When precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground, storm water runoff occurs. Storm water often picks up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants. These flow into a municipal storm sewer system or discharge directly to a lake, stream, river, or wetland. And this polluted storm water runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people.

  • Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment can also destroy aquatic habitats.
  • Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can’t exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
  • Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.
  • Debris-plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles and cigarette butts washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles and birds.
  • Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
  • Polluted storm water often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.

Let’s all be mindful of where our storm water goes and the impacts we have on its origin. Let’s help keep Cedar Creek clean.

Information contained in this educational article was obtained from the USEPA storm water web site www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater. For additional information regarding your local storm water issues, please contact Todd Sattison, Program Coordinator at the City of Auburn Water Pollution Control, at 260-925-1714.