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What is Stormwater Runoff?

Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or sprinkler water flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground. Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people.

  • Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grown. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats.
  • Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can’t exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
  • Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.
  • Litter including plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts - washed into waterbodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds.
  • Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick from eating diseased fish or ingesting polluted water.
  • Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
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Did You Know?

Like many cities and towns, Burlington has two separate underground systems. The sewer system carries waste to the wastewater treatment plant while the stormwater system carries waste UNTREATED into nearby streams, rivers, and lakes. Stormdrains were originally designed to carry rainwater quickly off roads, parking lots, and other developed areas. In order to protect our water quality, the City is investing in new types of infrastructure, including bioretention cells, residential rain gardens and other best management practices that filter and treat pollution before it gets into our water.

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To download a map of the walking tour, please click here, or visit our materials page. To check out the signs on display, please click here.

 

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