What is Storm Water Pollution?
Storm water is water from rain or snow melt that is not absorbed into the groundwater supply and allowed to flow over impervious surfaces collecting trash and pollutants which are then deposited into storm drains and eventually into our creeks, streams, and rivers without benefit of treatment.
Why is storm water important and why should we educate the public?
Storm water is important because it is a natural resource that recharges the aquifers which provide us with our drinking water supply. Storm water can accumulate pollutants as it drains to streams and cause harm to fish and other organisms that live in the water. In turn, those fish that have been contaminated can potentially make you sick if you eat the fish. It is for that reason that storm water pollution prevention is essential to ensure that we keep our creeks and rivers safe, because what many people don't know is that the installation's storm water discharges directly to those same waterways. Not only are these water resources for our drinking water supply, but also for recreation activities like swimming and fishing.
What permits does Fort Johnson operate under?
Fort Johnson has been permitted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality as a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). As an MS4 permit holder, Fort Johnson is required to develop, implement and track six Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) as outlined in the permit. MCM's are schedules of activities, prohibitions of practices, maintenance procedures, and other management practices used to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States. Standard operating procedures for the six MCMs are documented in the Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP).
- MCM 1: Public Education and Outreach on Storm Water Impacts
- MCM 2: Public Involvement and Participation
- MCM 3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- MCM 4: Construction Site Storm Water Run-off Control
- MCM 5: Post Construction Storm Water Management in New Development and Redevelopment
- MCM 6: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
Another permit that is held by Fort Johnson is the Multi-Sector General Purpose Permit (MSGP), which covers storm water discharges associated with industrial activities. Part of the MSGP states that storm water sampling must be conducted to verify that no pollutants are leaving the industrial sites. During rain events, Storm Water Technicians collect samples for visual assessment and sends them off to a lab for analysis. The samples are tested for specific metals depending on the industrial activity, and the concentrations of each. Along with sampling, Storm Water Technicians perform month assessment of the industrial sites. During the assessments, structural and non-structural best management practives (BMP) are assessed for effectiveness in protecting storm water from pollutants. All industrial activity descriptions, site maps, assessments, storm water monitoring and analytical results are captured in the installation's industrial Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3).
Construction activities also fall under two permits:
Small Construction Activities
√ Entrance signage
√ BMP Inspections
Large Construction Activities
√ Entrance signage
√ BMP Inspections
Storm Water Technicians are required to assess and monitor construction sites on the installation. Storm Water Technicians work behind the scenes with construction personnel to ensure that storm water BMPs are utilized at activities where the ground has been disturbed. The term BMP is used interchangeably with minimum control measures. A common BMP used at construction sites is silt fencing. Silt fences are used to contain sediment and other debris and prevent this material from migrating off of the construction footprint and potentially into a storm water conveyance or a receiving stream via storm water run-off.
What is Low Impact Design and why is it important?
Fort Johnson has implemented Low Impact Design (LID) into the installation design guide. LID focuses on best engineering practices that maintain the original hydrology of the area at pre-construction levels. LID techniques, such as rain gardens, permeable pavement, and vegetated swales, slows storm water run-off, allows storm water to percolate into the ground and/or provides natural filtering through landscaping before discharge into area water bodies. The idea behind LID is that an area should be able to retain and naturally filter storm water, preventing sediment and other pollutants from entering our creeks and streams.
Key information to take home:
One of the most important Minimum Control Measures is the Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination initiative. An illicit discharge has been defined by Federal & EPA storm water regulations as "any discharge to an MS4 that is not composed entirely of storm water." Public education is critical for identification and reporting of illicit discharges, because the Storm Water Team relies on informed citizens to report potential pollution on the installation. An example of an illicit discharge would be a sewer leak or dumping waste materials directly into a storm drain. As required by the MS4 permit, Storm Water Technicians also perform dry weather monitoring at 21 pre-selected locations which represent watersheds, across the installation to detect potential illicit discharges as well as investigate suspected illicit discharges that are called in to the Storm Water Hotline. If an illicit discharge is detected, the technician will attempt to determine where the discharge originated and inform the appropriate entities to resolve the issue.
To report an illicit discharge, call the hotline at 337-531-9626.
- Make note of address/building,
- Description of discharge,
- If dumping of waste into streams, creeks or storm water conveyances is observed, please make a note of any identifiable markings of the equipment and/or personnel at the site.
The Storm Water Team tracks industrial, construction, and municipal activities to ensure compliance with both the MS4 and MSGP Permits. Education and prevention are the keys to success within the Storm Water program. It is everyone's responsibility to help protect our creeks and streams. Just get involved and keep an eye out for potential illicit discharges. For more information on illicit discharges or about the Storm Water program, please contact the Storm Water Manager at 337-531-1962