Monday, February 19, 2018

Suffolk County Stormwater Management Program

April 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Oil and grease from roadways, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, sediments from construction, and carelessly discarded trash and litter are all common pollutants found in stormwater runoff. These and other water pollutants impair our local waterways, degrading habitats for fish and other aquatic life, creating human health risks, and discouraging recreational use. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now considers stormwater pollution the nation’s greatest threat to clean water.

Suffolk County, in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, developed a Stormwater Management Program aimed to reduce water pollution through a multi-faceted approach. Program elements include identification and monitoring of stormwater discharges, control of stormwater runoff from county roads and construction sites, improved maintenance practices, and education and outreach services.

To address stormwater pollution emanating from county roads and properties, a comprehensive “Geographic Information System” mapping database was developed, detailing the location and attributes of each of the 297 county-owned stormwater outfalls. These points, where a conveyance such as a storm sewer network discharges into streams, lakes, bays, and wetlands, are monitored for dry weather flow and, if detected, water quality sampling is conducted.

Under the Stormwater Management Program, Suffolk County Public Works and Parks supervisors have been trained on best management practices for the proper handling and disposal of hazardous chemicals including oils, cleaning products, paint products, and other petroleum based products at work sites and at home.

Public education and outreach has been another major component of the program. Since 2003, the program has made 479 school and 28 civic group presentations before 13,500 students and 1,000 adults. Further public education includes curb markers affixed to catch basins along County roads with the message “Do Not Dump, Drains to Bay,” plus a comprehensive website: www.suffolkstormwater.com.

Suffolk County is also implementing innovative “green” technologies for new storm water remediation projects. Construction began last fall on a pilot project to replace the existing asphalt with permeable asphalt pavement on the shoulder of a section of County Road 80 (Montauk Highway). Such replacement material begins the infiltration/filtration process at the surface of the roadway. Storm water runoff will infiltrate into the underlying sub-base and existing soils, acting as a sand filter to remove suspended solids and other pollutants prior to their discharge into the adjacent Weesuck Creek. If successful in the pilot, permeable asphalt will be considered for similar projects within Suffolk County.

Another project planned for the fall of 2011 is the construction of a modified rain garden median in the center of the parking area at Meschutt Beach County Park. The proposed design will redirect runoff, which currently flows from the parking lot directly onto the beach, towards the rain garden median featuring native beach grass plantings plus a layer of mixed stones (dolomite, perlite, and gypsum, all known for their pollutant filtering capabilities). The county may also use permeable asphalt strips to catch and infiltrate a portion of the parking lot runoff.

Through its Stormwater Management Program, Suffolk County is taking major steps to reduce pollution of our precious waterbodies now, and for future generations.

Jennifer McGivern is Research Technician for the Suffolk County Department of Environment and Energy, Division of Water Quality Improvement

Story by Jennifer McGivern

a lifelong resident of Long Island, is passionate about science and the environment and enjoys spending free time doing activities on and near the water including boating, swimming, and hiking.

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