Living in a Watershed – Storm Water Pollution Prevention

No matter where you live, you are in a watershed. Watersheds can include entire counties or be separated into an area within your yard. A watershed is an area in which all the storm water run-off is directed – a lake, wetland, river, stream, or depression. Management of the storm water pollution within the watersheds is important to maintain or improve water quality.

The Watershed Districts

The City of Shorewood boundary is within the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and the Riley-Purgatory Creek Watershed District (RPCWD). The watershed districts regulate projects within their boundaries and require permits for completion. The goal of the watershed districts is to enhance the water quality of the water resources within the watersheds while at the same time controlling flooding. The organizations participate in watershed management with a proactive approach on issues pertaining to water resources, public information and education, regulation of land use, regulation of the use of water bodies and their beds, and capital improvement projects.

City Involvement

The City is included in a group of communities that are federally required to obtain a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit for managing non-point source stormwater. Non-point source stormwater is generally the overland flow of stormwater that does not originate from a single pipe, also known as point-source stormwater.

Another stormwater pollution prevention requirement is the Phase II National Pollution and Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process. This requires cities such as Shorewood to file a Phase II NPDES permit with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) which addresses how the City will regulate and improve stormwater discharges. The NPDES Phase II plan addresses the six Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) outlined in the permit requirements. The six Minimum Control Measures of the permit are:

  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Participation and Involvement
  3. Illicit Discharge, Detection and Elimination
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control
  5. Post Construction Runoff Control
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping

The permit must include a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) addressing all the requirements of the permit. The purpose of the SWPPP is to promote a regional approach to stormwater management that is coordinated on a watershed basis.

The SWPPP is intended to provide guidance during the project design and review process. SWPPP incorporates the use of Best Management Practices (BMP) to provide sediment and erosion control of stormwater within and discharging from the construction site. The proper use of BMP’s can aid in maintaining or improving the water quality of the nearby resources that may be directly or indirectly impacted by stormwater leaving the site.

Resident Participation

Residents living in the City of Shorewood can participate in the stormwater pollution prevention management process to maintain or improve the quality of the natural resources within their watershed. Resident involvement to identify and address non-stormwater discharges or flows (i.e. illicit discharges) can aid in improving the water quality of discharges from individual yards. Suggestions to help maintain or improve water quality within a watershed include:

  1. Maintain a healthy lawn with minimal and appropriate fertilizer applications
  2. Plant trees, shrubs, or other species to increase ground cover.
  3. Reduce yard waste:
    • Don’t allow grass clippings, fertilizers, leaves, or soil to accumulate on your driveway.
    • Plant a variety of trees, shrubs, and other plants.
    • Landscaping with native plants that develop deep root systems.
  4. Redirect downspouts from paved areas to vegetated areas.
  5. Keep catch basins or storm sewer grates clear of debris.
  6. Wash vehicles on your lawn and not your driveway.
  7. Properly dispose of waste – it is illegal to dispose of down the storm sewer.

Residents actively participating in stormwater pollution prevention is the first step to maintaining or improving the water quality in the major watershed where you live. The City of Shorewood and the local watershed districts will participate by regulating and implementing options from the NPDES Phase II to promote a regional approach to stormwater management.

See what the city has done to meet state stormwater standards through the MS4 program.