Public Education + Outreach

What is stormwater?

Stormwater is water from precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement when it rains or when snow and ice melt. The water seeps into the ground or drains into the catch basins of storm sewers. Collectively, the draining water is called stormwater runoff.

Where can I go for more information?

You can contact your community’s Stormwater Management Program Coordinator or the Nebraska Department of Environmental and Energy for more information about stormwater management.

Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE):

National Regional Offices:

Are sewers and storm drains the same thing?

No. They are two completely separate drainage systems. Effluent in the sewer system receives extensive and thorough filtration prior to being discharged back into a natural water body. The storm drain system on the other hand, receives no filtration whatsoever, and discharges directly into the nearest river or lake untreated.

What does MS4 stand for?

MS4 stands for municipal separate storm sewer system, which is designed strictly to gather stormwater and send it out to local rivers and streams. The “M” stands for “municipal” and the “4” is in reference to the four words starting with the letter “s.”

CSO Illustration LynchburgVA 1

Is stormwater one word or two?

Stormwater, as defined by the EPA, is one word.

Construction Stormwater Management (CSW)

What is a "Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan" (SWPPP)?

The SWPPP is a plan for controlling stormwater runoff from a construction site. Because every site is unique, every SWPPP is unique. The plan needs to be updated as work progresses.

What are "Best Management Practices" (BMP)?

Best Management Practices are the techniques (buffers, silt fences, detention ponds, swales, etc.), schedule of activities, prohibitions of practices and maintenance procedures to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants.

Can filters or screens be permanently installed in front of catch basins?

It sounds like a good idea. But during a rainstorm, trash is quickly swept to the catch basin and any screen or filtration device placed in front of the catch basin would cause trash to accumulate and clog the grate, preventing proper drainage and end up flooding the street. With hundreds of catch basins feeding miles of pipes and channels in the system alone, there would be far too many blocked catch basins to have crews cleaning them as the rain falls.  There are new technologies being developed in the form of filtration or screening devices to be installed and inserted inside catch basins.

Who is required to possess an NPDES permit?

Any company or person who discharges runoff or treated effluent from a point source into U.S. waters is required to have an NPDES permit. Although an NPDES permit is not required for discharge into a municipal sanitary sewer system, your municipality may require a separate permit.

Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSW)

Why doesn't the City build a stormwater treatment facility?

Such a facility would be extremely costly to build and maintain to accommodate unpredictable times and quantities of runoff. A massive amount of water coming through the facility during a rainstorm could easily overtax a system.

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE)

I have often seen stencils over storm drains and conveyances. How do I get a stencil for a catch basin near me?

You can contact the local public works department in your area for more information.

Yard clippings and leaves are natural, so they don't cause any problems, right?

Grass, leaves and yard clippings that are repeatedly swept into catch basins can clog the drain, causing flooding and can become a breeding ground for rodents and insects. Additionally, grass and leaves decompose and contribute to new plant growth which deprives aquatic animals of their oxygen, and die.

What are the effects of these pollutants on our waters?

States report that nonpoint source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems. The effects of nonpoint source pollutants on specific waters vary and may not always be fully assessed. However, we know that these pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries, and wildlife.