What is an Illicit Discharge?
An illicit discharge is the induction (accidentally or purposely) of non-storm water to the ground or into the storm sewer.
Examples of Illicit Discharge:
- sanitary waste water
- septic tank effluent
- car wash waste waters
- motor oil disposal
- radiator flushing disposal
- laundry waste waters
- auto and household toxins disposal
- leaves and yard waste
There are simple steps that we can take to solve the problems that illicit discharges create. It is up to YOU, the homeowner and business owners who call Fortville home, to clean it up and to help keep it clean!
Six Easy Ways that You Can Keep Illicit Discharges Out of Our Waterways:
- Used oil, antifreeze, and batteries can be recycled. Clean up any spills immediately, kitty litter or sawdust will absorb the spill. Be sure to sweep these up as well.
- Wash your car on the grass so that the water, detergent, and dirt will be filtered by the soil. A better solution is to take your car to a commercial car wash, where the dirty water is sent to a wastewater treatment plant.
- Empty bottles of household cleansers, pesticides, and weed killer should be disposed of according to label directions.
- Grass clippings in the street should be swept up after each mowing. Grass clippings left in the street are being washed down into the storm sewers and end up in the streams where they have the potential to cause algae problems.
- Many household products. including paints, paint thinners, and solvents can be taken to drop off sites or at the Hancock County Tox Away Day (watch the local paper for dates). Paint brushes used with water based paint can be rinsed in the sink. If you have leftover paint in a can, and it is latex or water-based paint you can fill the can with kitty litter and once it is absorbed you can set it out for trash pick up.
- When walking your pet, use a bag or use a scooper to clean up your pet’s waste. In order to keep animal waste from contaminating our community, anyone who walks a pet should properly dispose of waste by picking it up, wrapping it, and either placing it into the trash or flushing it UNWRAPPED.
What we do on land affects the quality of water we drink and use in so many ways
Many small sources of pollution add up to cause big water quality problems
Natural things such as soil, leaves, grass clippings, and pet waste can cause water pollution
Waste dumped into storm sewers goes into Stottlemeyer Ditch and Jackson Ditch without treatment
Automobiles and other vehicles cause water pollution as well as air pollution
REPORTING OF ILLEGAL DUMPING OR SUSPICIOUS DISCHARGES
Reporting will, in great part, rely on participation from the public. Residents who observe illegal dumping or observe pollutants with waterways or storm sewers should contact the Town of Fortville at (317) 485-4044 ext. 103 to report a stormwater violation.
A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rain water from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains or streams. Composed of a 55 gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is somewhat simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout.
What are the advantages of a rain barrel?
Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer. A rain barrel collects water and stores it for when you need it most –during periods of drought — to water plants, wash your car, or to top a swimming pool. It provides an ample supply of free ‘soft water’ to homeowners, containing no chlorine, lime or calcium making it ideal for gardens, flower pots, and car and window washing.
A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy (decreased demand for treated tap water). Diverting water from storm drains also decreases the impact of runoff to streams. Therefore, a rain barrel is an easy way for you to save on your water bill and have a consistent supply of clean, fresh water for outdoor use, FREE.
Water Quality Begins at Home
Regardless of where you live, you are part of a watershed–a region where water flows across or under the ground on its way to a lake, river, stream, reservoir or ocean. Year round lawn and yard care practices impact water quality even if you don’t live near a water body.
Thanks to sound science, we now understand how phosphorus-containing lawn fertilizers contribute to poor water quality. Phosphorus, the middle number on the lawn fertilizer bag, is present in all living things–including soil. However, too much phosphorus disrupts nature’s balance. How and why does this imbalance occur?
There’s a pipeline from your lawn to a water body!
Runoff from unused phosphorus in lawn fertilizer moves across lawns, roads and woods into streams and ditches, and eventually into reservoirs and lakes. The majority of Indiana soils already contain adequate amounts of phosphorus for a healthy lawn, so most lawns don’t need the extra food.
Phosphorus is “junk food” for algae present in a reservoir, lake or stream. One pound of phosphorus can produce 10,000 pounds of wet weeds and algae. When phosphorus is washed into lakes, the algae grows out of control (known as repeated algae bloom), reducing clarity and visibility. Some forms of blue-green algae can be toxic.
Repeated algae blooms create “green” lakes, which can:
- Cause fish kills or loss of cold water fish habitats
- Add a foul taste and smell to the drinking water
- Become a neighborhood nuisance
- Produce poor water quality for fish, wildlife, and humans
The Economic Impact
As watersheds are converted from their natural state to residential, commercial, or industrial uses, the amount of phosphorus runoff into a lake can increase 5 to 10 times. Green lakes impact a community in several ways. Poor water quality significantly reduces recreational use of the water body. It also reduces property values.
Is There a Solution?
The solution to phosphorus runoff is to control the source.. Using phosphorus free lawn fertilizer is one easy way anyone can contribute to better water quality–regardless of where you live. When shopping for lawn fertilizer, look for the three numbers on the lawn fertilizer bag. The middle number indicates the phosphorus content of the fertilizer, so look for a zero. The other numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen (first number) and potassium (third number) in the fertilizer. Phosphorus is needed only on newly seeded lawns or where soil testing indicates a deficiency.
What You Can Do!
- Use phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer! Your local nursery or landscape supply store should have phosphorus free fertilizers in stock. If not, ask the manager to order it.
- Apply fertilizer only when it is needed, during the right season, and in proper amounts.
- Avoid getting fertilizer on driveways, sidewalks and storm drains. Above all, fertilize carefully. Don’t let your fertilizer application get into lakes, streams or ponds.
- Use a mulching mower and cut no more than the top third of the grass.
- Keep leaves, grass clippings and soil out of streets and gutters. Compost leaves and clippings on site, bag them for collection or use a community compost program. Registered organic recycling and composting facilities are listed at www.recycle.IN.gov
- Clean up after your pet. Pet waste contains phosphorus.
- Prevent soil erosion by covering the ground with vegetation or mulch.
More information can be obtained at Indiana Department of Environmental Management Office of Water Quality www.idem.IN.gov
Information on this page was obtained the brochure “Green Lawns, Clean Lakes” published by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. www.iaswcd.org
Don’t burn those leaves and grass clippings! Leave them on your lawn. If you really want to catch the grass and leaves, don’t send them to the landfill; make your own compost pile. A compost pile is a designated area where you put your grass clippings, leaves and other organic yard waste.
What should and shouldn’t be put into the compost pile?
These items are safe for a compost pile:
grass clippings, twigs, leaves and weeds (except ones that have gone to seed, or spread by runners), coffee grounds, filters and tea bags, egg shells, fruit and vegetable scraps, shredded newspaper (do not add the glossy newspaper inserts as they contain chemicals in the colored ink)
These items are not safe for a compost pile:
diseased plants, destructive stalky weeds, twigs/leaves/weeds that have gone to seed or spread by runners, animal or human waste, chemically treated wood products, glossy or coated paper, ashes, meat/fish/scraps and bones, oils and other fatty food products, milk products.
Prevent Mercury Contamination
There are many items in our homes that contain mercury. Once the products listed below outgrow their usefulness, DO NOT THROW THEM AWAY! The mercury can escape if the item breaks. Take the entire item to your local solid waste management district for proper disposal.
These household items may contain mercury:
Mercury thermometers, Thermostats, Fluorescent and mercury vapor lighting, Automotive blue-tint head lamps, Pilot light sensors, switches and relays, Gauges (with silver-colored liquid), Clothes irons (automatic or tilt shut-offs), Vintage toys (mercury maze games), Batteries (primarily mercury oxide), Medicines or health care products (thimerosal or merbromin antibacterial agent in personal care products)
Take the mercury-containing item to a household hazardous waste collection site or a tox-away day. Your local solid waste management district may have a program near you. Check the Web at www.in.gov/idem/oppta/recycling/swmd/ or call 800-988-7901 for information about your local solid waste management district.
When you dispose of mercury improperly, such as dumping it down the drain, it contaminates the water and is difficult to remove. This leads to mercury contamination in the fish you eat and the water you drink. Do your part, consider the options for proper disposal, and use your brain before pouring anything down the drain!
This information was obtained from the brochure “Stop! What you pour down the drain can end up in me!” brochure distributed by IDEM.
What is Household Hazardous Waste?
Many common household products contain hazardous substances. These products become household hazardous waste (HHW) once the consumer no loner has any use for them. The average U.S. household generates more than 20 pounds of HHW per year. As much as 100 pounds can accumulate in the home, often remaining there until the residents move or do an extensive cleanout.
Hazardous waste is waste that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that is corrosive or toxic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set stringent requirements for the management of hazardous waste generated by industries. Some HHW can pose risks to people and the environment if it is not used, stored carefully, and disposed of properly. However, Congress chose not to regulate it because regulating every household is simply too impractical.
Government and industry are working to develop consumer products with fewer or no hazardous constituents. However, for some products, such as car batteries and photographic chemicals, no “safe” substitutes exist. So, communities will need effective HHW management programs for some time to come. Hancock County offers a Tox-Drop Day in the spring for residents in Hancock County. Be sure to watch your local paper for dates, times, and location for the 2006 Tox-Drop Day. There are some auto parts retailers in Hancock County that will accept used automobile fluids for recycling. In Greenfield, Autozone will accept used motor oil as long as you bring it in closed containers such as milk jugs or laundry detergent jugs. You can call them to get specific instructions at (317)467-4002.
Listed below are a few HHW items and their alternatives:
Adhesives, glue, epoxy – Use water based adhesives whenever possible
Ant Poison – Keep countertops clean and free of food and crumbs. Use bait and traps instead of sprays.
Disinfectants – Look on the label for the words “EPA REG. NO”.
Insect Repellants – Wear protective, light colored clothing. Try citronella products.
Mothballs – Clean clothes before storing in a sealed container with cedar blocks/chips.
Paints/Solvents – Consider non-resistant materials, pretreated wood or water sealants.
Pesticides – Remove food sources, try traps, caulk entryways and choose least toxic or non-toxic.
Asphalt, roofing tar, driveway sealers – Do not allow product to run into storm drains. Consider having your driveway sealed by a professional.
Toilet bowl cleaners – Consider cleaners labeled non-corrosive.
Transmission fluid – Whenever possible, choose to have your fluid changed at a dealer that recycles.
Weed killers – Pull weeds and mulch with wood chips or grass clippings.