Just say 'No' to stormwater pollution, illegal dumping

  • Published
  • By Amy Tharp
  • 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron
Hurlburt Field is taking steps to improve the quality of the base's surface waters by reducing the amount of pollution carried to streams, wetlands and the Santa Rosa Sound due to stormwater runoff.

Stormwater originates from rain and enters the base's water system; and what is not absorbed into the ground due to a solid surface, like concrete or asphalt, is considered stormwater runoff.

Hurlburt Field's system is designed to collect this runoff and provide pollution removal in the catch basins and retention ponds that make up Hurlburt's stormwater system.

A variety of toxic pollutants leak from the streets and parking lots into this system. These include oil, antifreeze and gasoline from motor vehicles; copper dust released from motor vehicle brake pad linings; rubber tire dust; soaps and chemicals used for washing; waste motor oil from vehicles, lawn mowers and small equipment; fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides; and even ecosystem-damaging soil from erosion.

This pollution is called "non-point source" pollution, since it comes from many unidentifiable sources, making it hard to regulate and prevent.

Pollution has a significant effect on streams, wetlands and water bodies such as the Santa Rosa Sound. It is also a major problem seen in cities all over the state and across the nation.

The best way to reduce pollution is to stop it at its source. Keep your storm drains clean and free of debris.

Remember, pollutants flushed down storm drains directly affect the quality of our water bodies and could possibly make them unsafe for boating, fishing, swimming and other water-related activities.

Here are some tips to help keep our waterways clean:
  • Don't work on your car in a place where oil and grease could be washed into street gutters. Used motor oil should be contained and taken to a collection center. The base auto hobby shop provides this service.
  • Grass clippings should be bagged and disposed of with yard waste. Dumping grass clippings down a storm drain can slow storm water flow and clog the drains.
  • Do not wash dirty paint brushes under an outdoor faucet. Chances are the dirty rinse water will flow into a storm drain and into streams.
  • Pet droppings should not be discarded into storm drains or left in the yard. Clean up pet droppings and dispose of them in the garden, trash bins or in the toilet.
  • Only wash your car and any other vehicles or equipment at designated wash facilities where the wash water is treated.
  • Use pesticides sparingly and don't fertilize right before it rains.
  • Try to keep trash and other debris out of gutters and away from catch basins.
  • Report illegal dumping: dumping waste down storm drains is not only bad for the environment but is illegal.
If you have questions or a complaint, call the 1st SOCES environmental element at 884-4651.