by Parker Alvis
Environmental Scientist

Have you ever wondered why there’s an insignia of a trout stamped on the top of stormwater drains? If you’ve never noticed this, take a look the next time you happen to see one on a sidewalk or in a parking lot. It’s probably not hard to guess the reason when its printed directly on top, but most people are unaware that those drains lead directly to our streams and rivers. As you can probably imagine, there are certainly things that go down those drains that do not belong. Fortunately, there are at least laws and regulations in place to help curb the pollution and waste that we allow to go into these drains, but it is still up to us to make the responsible choice.

During the 1970’s, the social justice movement helped launch the first wave of environmental awareness and agencies were formed that would frame the laws and regulations we have today. Thanks to the Clean Water Act of 1972, regulations were put in place to protect our nation’s waters, to ensure that we will secure our safety along with the ecosystems that survive and thrive off our water systems. The Clean Water Act’s (CWA) primary system of pollution prevention was formed, and they created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

The NPDES wasn’t just another long acronym that the government could add to our already extensive collection. This was the start of a system that would allow us to enforce penalties for point source discharges and to fight against pollution of our waters. Under the NPDES, there is a system of permits that are catered to individual industries. Any and everything fits into a system that applies to a specific general permit, each with requirements and limits catered to the industry in which they apply.

Regardless of the industry, there is a very large chance these regulations apply, and a system is in place to collect, help filter, and discharge that water safely. There is a name for these systems, but I’ll save that acronym for another time. The point is, we should all make responsible choices whether as individuals, managers, or even owners about what is allowed into our stormwater drains, creeks, streams, rivers, and eventually our oceans. The circle of life is dependent upon sustainability and environmental responsibility, keeping our waters and the organisms that live in it safe is just a small part of ensuring that generations of people will be safe and healthy.

If you have questions regarding stormwater compliance or other environmental concerns, please contact Parker Alvis, Environmental Scientist with The EI Group, Inc., at (980) 241-2469 or [email protected].