Stormwater- what's the big deal?
When we replace vegetated areas with hard surfaces (impervious), such as buildings and roads, rain water cannot soak into the ground but leaves the site as stormwater. Most stormwater runoff is untreated and flows directly into our waterways. Fertilizers, pesticides, oils, metals and other harmful substances mix with rainwater as it runs off lawns, parking lots, and streets. In addition, pet wastes, grass clippings, and leaves can pollute our waterways if they aren't kept out of the storm drain.
Stormwater carries these pollutants into our creeks, rivers and lakes where it can harm plant and animal life, as well as poison our drinking water supply. There are more than 20 creeks across Gainesville and Alachua County that drain into sinkholes, lakes, marshes, or the Santa Fe River. Through these, much of the local stormwater eventually enters the underlying aquifer, a natural underground reservoir that provides Florida with over 90% of its drinking water.
State regulations require new developments to build retention areas to store stormwater. These regulations focus on the quantity of water leaving a site, and are just now starting to look at the quality of the stormwater. Stormwater is regulated by the St Johns River Water Management District and the Suwannee River Water Management District. Alachua County Public Works Department also reviews stormwater plans.
Outfall Reconnaisance Investigation (ORI)
During 2008-2012 ACEPD staff surveyed the entire length of Tumblin Creek, Sweetwater Branch, Colclough Pond and some of the tributaries to Hogtown Creek. During this survey staff made observations to identify illicit discharges to the creeks. There were several major findings in this survey: leaking wastewater lines in were identified and repaired in Sweetwater and Rattlesnake Branch, a leaky water supply line in Elizabeth Creek, and a pool water discharge in Tumblin Creek. All illicit discharges were repaired or eliminated. To read the entire report click here.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program
The Gainesville Clean Water Partnership was formed in 2001, when Alachua County, the City of Gainesville, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) joined to implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Municipal Separate Stormwater Systems (MS4) program in the Gainesville Urbanized Area.
This mutual agreement created the structure to implement minimum control measures required by the NPDES Phase II MS4 program, including public outreach, public participation, illicit discharge detection and elimination program (IDDEP), mapping requirements, distribution of best management practice information and good housekeeping for municipal operations. The City of Gainesville acts as the coordinating agency for the Partnership. Activities supported and carried out by the Partnership are outlined in the City and County's Stormwater Management Plan. A copy of these plans is available for review along with other Partnership related information at www.gainesvillecreeks.org.
The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) is the agency responsible for the implementation of the IDDEP and some of the public outreach components.
The following quarterly reports summarize inspections of hazardous materials facilities, response to spills and complaints, public outreach efforts, and investigative projects that are conducted as part of the illicit detection and elimination (IDDEP) program implemented by the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD).