In order to protect our water resources from pollution, Denton County will conduct activities designed to increase public awareness about and encourage involvement in the Storm Water Program. The County will distribute materials, make presentations, and maintain this website in an effort to increase awareness. And provide ways our citizens can get involved in keeping our lakes and streams clean and clear of pollutants. There are links throughout this site to identify ways to reduce our risk of polluting our waterways.
Preventing pollution is a much more cost-effective method of keeping our waters clean than treating polluted water. It is important that we all do our part to keep pollutants out of our waterways. Most people understand that dumping a truckload of a nasty chemical directly into our lakes and streams is a bad thing. The problem with storm water is that many people put small amounts of less dangerous substances on their lawns or in our waterways. Without thinking about it can be just as bad as the whole truckload.
The storm water program public awareness campaign is designed to get the word out that we all have a role to play in preventing water pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already announced that storm water runoff from urban areas is one of the leading pollutants in our waterways. However, the types of pollutants found in urban storm water runoff are not what most people think of as pollutants.
Debris is another major problem associated with storm water runoff. Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags, and all of the other things that get cast aside as we rush from one point to the next. All of these things end up in our waterways and cause a variety of problems for aquatic life and water quality in general. Keeping our waterways clean and clear is just one more reason why we should not litter.
Fertilizers are good for our lawns and gardens. They provide nutrients that the plants need in order to grow. Unfortunately, other organisms can use these nutrients as well.
The "Dead Zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is an excellent example of what happens when these nutrients enter our waterways. The "Dead Zone" is an area in the Gulf at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Fertilizers from urban and agricultural runoff leave the river and enter the ocean where they cause massive algal blooms. Once the algae die, they are decomposed. This process uses a huge amounts of oxygen.
The result is a large portion of the Gulf having oxygen levels so low nothing can grow there. This phenomena has been observed every summer for almost 10 years now. It has seriously hurt the local fishing communities, and its long-range ecological effects have yet to be determined.
While we do not live near the Gulf, our actions impact the Gulf. The nutrients causing these problems come from as far away as Minnesota and the Dakotas. Additionally, local "Dead Zones" can also be created in our lakes and streams due to similar types of activities.
Pollutants from illegal dumping is a problem for both urban and rural areas. Landfills take very specific measures to ensure that pollutants are not released into the environment. Garbage should always be disposed of properly, and not placed in a ditch, field, or other areas. Larger items, like refrigerators, home appliances, and computers pose risks as well.
These items often contain substances that are very toxic when released into the environment. They can cause problems, not only for the plants and animals living in our waterways but people as well.
Sediment is a major problem, especially in areas of rapid growth where many construction activities are taking place. Sediments cause problems by stopping light from penetrating in water, covering breeding grounds, filling in channels, and decreasing the storage capacity of lakes. By stopping light from penetrating into water, sediments harm aquatic plants that are necessary for other aquatic organisms, like fish. Sediments can also cover optimal breeding grounds for fish.
When seediness fills in a channel, the water runs in other directions, often leading to floods. Every stream and river in the Denton County empties into a lake. Once the water enters a lake it slows down, the reduced speed allows sediments to stop flowing with the water and fall to the bottom of the lake.
Over time this built up of sediments leads to shallower water. In a free-market economy, when a resource is depleted and demand continues to increase the price will increase as well. Dredging excess sediment from a lake is also a very expensive venture. So it is important that we work hard to keep sediments out.