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Where does water pollution come from?

Most water pollution comes from everyday people doing everyday activities.

As we:
  • drive our cars
  • take care of our homes and lawns
  • walk our dogs
  • work at our jobs
we may contribute to water pollution without even realizing it.

From many sources
After a rain shower, it may look cleaner. But all the dirt and debris that was on the land has to go somewhere. As storm water flows, it picks up bits of dirt, auto fluids, chemicals and grass clippings. All get washed into the storm drain system.

This “non-point source” water pollution comes from yards, driveways, parking lots, rooftops, streets, even golf courses.

From a single source
“Point source” pollution comes from a single source. Some examples include a factory or a sanitary sewage treatment facility discharging into a stream.

Point source pollution could also come from a spill such as a tanker truck accident where fuel or other contaminants flow into the storm drain system. 

Sometimes people intentionally (and illegally) dump paint, used oil, leaves or other pollutants in storm drains.

Storm drain clogged by grass clippings
Grass clippings can clog drainage pipes and can cause
algae blooms and fish kills in our creeks

Truck overturned spilling fuel into storm drain
What goes into our storm drains is
not cleaned at a treatment plant

Why it matters
What flows into the storm drain system is not treated or cleaned. It goes down the storm drain, through a pipe, and empties into the nearest creek. 

Whether it comes from a "non-point" or a "point" source, if pollution goes down the storm drain, it also goes untreated into the creek. Because the runoff is never cleaned, the storm water can pollute our streams and lakes.

What you can do

Only rain should go down the storm drain.

Pollution Prevention fact sheet 

Pollution Prevention video - simple things you can do to help prevent water pollution 

For more information contact:
   Senior Water Quality Specialist Craig Miller at 704-336-7605 or 
   Environmental Supervisor David Caldwell at 980-314-3218.​