All rainwater that falls on parking lots, buildings, streets, and other hard surfaces - runs off into the stormdrain system and straight into the Truckee River. Those outfall pipes emptying into the river during the summer? Yep, it's all from our "urban slobber." And it's dangerous to fish and other critters.
No gutter runoff ever gets treated by the wastewater treatment system! This stormwater runoff travels along gutters, into catch basins and through a complex system of storm drain pipes and ditches, and eventually into the Truckee River untreated. Along the way, the runoff picks up trash (fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts, Styrofoam cups, etc.) and toxins (used motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides, pet droppings, etc.). Dry weather runoff, or "urban slobber," is the big trouble. In the dry season, the river is low, and gutter flows carry with them pollutants in runoff draining into the streets from stray hoses, forgotten sprinklers, car washing, etc. Basically, anything sprayed, applied, dumped or dropped on the ground can and does contribute to stormwater pollution. The Truckee River is the major source of our drinking water supply and stormwater pollution threatens this precious resource!
Did you know that just one gallon of used oil can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water - a year's supply of water for 50 people?
When left untreated, stormwater pollution can result in the destruction of fish, wildlife, and habitats; threats to public health due to contaminated food and drinking water supplies; and losses of recreational and aesthetic values. Studies conducted by the US EPA indicate that polluted stormwater is a leading cause of impairment to the nearly 40 percent of the surveyed water bodies in the country. Polluted runoff is often discharged untreated directly into local water bodies.
Mandated by Congress under the Clean Water Act in 1990, the NPDES Stormwater Management Program is a comprehensive national program for addressing non-agricultural sources of stormwater pollution that adversely affect the quality of our nation's waters. The Program uses the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to require cities to implement controls designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by runoff into local water bodies. The Cities of Reno and Sparks, Washoe County, and the Nevada Department of Transportation were jointly issued an NPDES permit to discharge municipal stormwater runoff to the Truckee River and its tributaries on January 14, 2000. As a condition of the permit, these agencies are required to implement a Storm Water Quality Management Program to control pollutants in stormwater to the maximum extent practicable.