What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is a big deal! As communities become increasingly developed with more roads, parking lots, retail, entertainment, cars and homes there is an increase in impervious (not allowing liquid to pass through) surfaces. More impervious surfaces directly impacts our water and how it moves above and below ground during storms. These impervious surfaces impact the quality of our stormwater and the conditions of our creeks and lakes.
Stormwater is the nation’s #1 source of water pollution and is rapidly growing as a national environmental issue. It is important for all of us to take particular care in our daily activities to protect our waterways. Why? Clean Water = Healthy Life
Only Rain Down the Storm Drain
Whether you see a spill in your neighborhood or need to dispose of household hazardous waste, please take proper actions. Chemicals entering our water is a disaster.
What to Watch For and Report:
- Spills from traffic accidents
- Someone rinsing a paintbrush in the gutter
- Chemicals washing into a floor drain in a building connected to the storm drainage system.
- Landscaping materials in the right of way, sitting in the curb & gutter blocking water drainage.
- Waste water from mobile cleaning operations washing down the street to the drain
- Concrete wash out
Use the See Click Fix to report spills or illegal dumping or call the Stormwater Service Hotline 325-437-4937.
Making Good Choices Every Day
The daily activities of all of us has the potential to affect water quality if we don’t make good choices.
Abilene’s storm drains are connected directly to our creeks. Anything that ends up on your driveway, washes off your roof or sidewalk will eventually be carried by rain water to a creek in your vicinity. Imagine changing your oil in the middle of Catclaw Creek or rinsing out your paint brush in Elm Creek. The same thing happens when you wash anything on a paved surface into the curb & gutter system where it travels to the nearby creek.
Please think of your activities as they relate to:
- Vehicle maintenance and washing
- Yard maintenance
- Reporting spills
- Storage of materials outside
- Construction sites
Be sure not to allow anything but rain water to enter our storm drainage system.
Know the Rules
Abilene’s storm drainage system is designed to convey rain water to our local creeks and lakes. Businesses and residents all need to be aware of what is allowed and not allowed into the storm drain system. City ordinances, state and federal regulations establish methods for controlling pollutants entering our storm drains.
The Purpose Behind the City Ordinances
- Control pollutants headed to the storm drainage system.
- Prohibit illegal connections and discharges into the storm drainage system.
- Establish legal authority to carry out inspections, surveillance, monitoring and enforcement procedures necessary to ensure compliance with ordinances.
- Promote public awareness of the hazards of dumping trash, yard waste, lawn chemicals, pet & human waste, grease, oil, cleaning chemicals, paint products, sediment and other pollutants into the storm drainage system.
- No person will discharge or cause to be discharged into the storm drainage system or waterways any materials other than stormwater.
- The construction, use, maintenance, or continued existence of illicit connections to the storm drainage system is prohibited.
- It is illegal to cause materials to be deposited in such a manner or location as to cause a discharge into storm drains, gutters or waterways of the State of Texas. Materials that are no longer contained in a pipe, tank or other container is considered a threat to our water system unless they are actively being cleaned up.
- No person shall with malicious intent destroy or interfere with structural controls in place to protect water quality.
For more specifics about these requirements take a look at the, Stormwater Prohibitions Ordinance or contact a Stormwater official.
Clean Water, Healthy Life!
Check out these resources about stormwater protection! Stormwater is a big deal. Know the Clean Water Facts.
Abilene’s General Clean Stormwater Information
- Healthy Household Habits for Clean Water
- Bag It Don’t Blow It
- Storm Water Management Program
- Stormwater Pond Management
- Mobile Washing and Stormwater Runoff
- Fertilizers & Pesticides
- Charity Car Wash
- Antifreeze and Stormwater Management
- Spill Handling
- Swimming Pool & Spa Water Disposal
- Hood Cleaning
- Carpet Cleaning
- Yard Maintenance
- Property Maintenance
- Scoop It. Bag It. Trash It.
- Gas Station
- Automotive Repair Shops
Texas Stormwater Resources
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
- Texas Floodplain Management Association
- Texas Water Development Board
National Stormwater Resources
Adopt-A-Creek OR Adopt-A-Street
Are you interested in making Abilene clean and proud? Adopting a street or creek is a great way for groups, businesses or individuals to designate an area they pledge to keep clean. Your area can be a street, a creek, a neighborhood, a park, etc. The City of Abilene has partnered with the non-profit organization, Keep Abilene Beautiful, who operates and manages the local adopt-a-spot program.
Here Is How It Works
- Pick a public location close to your home, office, or meeting place, or ask Keep Abilene Beautiful to help you pick a spot.
- A sign with your group name will be placed in your area.
- Designate a leader, someone who is responsible for announcing cleanup dates, organizing volunteers, and getting the Adopt-a-Spot supplies from KAB. Supplies include trash bags and Grab-Its!
- Get together to clean your area! You can remove litter and debris, plant trees and flowers, paint, etc.
Are You Interested?
Please visit Keep Abilene Beautiful to review the program requirements, application and agreement forms to be completed OR email Keep Abilene Beautiful with questions or concerns.
The water supply of Earth is a required element for life to exist and thrive. The water cycle is a continuous cycle that keeps water moving on and around Earth in different forms. The different stages of the water cycle include evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Each stage of the cycle leads to the next stage, and each stage is an important part of a process that helps to water plants, fill cisterns, dry up puddles, and remove floodwaters.
Aquifer: An aquifer is an underground layer that contains groundwater.
Atmosphere: A unit of atmosphere measures the air pressure at sea level, which is about 14.7 pounds per square inch.
Climate: The climate of a location includes all of the weather conditions for this location over an extended period of time.
Cloud: A cloud is a visible mass of small water droplets or tiny ice crystals that are suspended in the atmosphere.
Cloud Condensation Nuclei: Water vapor surrounds tiny particles, condensing in clouds to become raindrops.
Condensation: Condensation is the process by which water vapor changes into liquid.
Current: Currents are predictable and steady flows of fluid in a larger body of fluid.
Density: Density describes the amount of things in a specific space.
Dew Point: Dew point is the temperature at which water in the air condenses to become water droplets near the ground.
Ecosystem: An ecosystem is a community of living and nonliving things in an area.
Erosion: Erosion happens when soil is worn away, usually by wind, water, or ice.
Evaporation: Evaporation is the process of water changing into water vapor.
Evapotranspiration: When moisture from the soil evaporates into the atmosphere or when transpiration from plants occurs, this is called evapotranspiration.
Fog: Clouds near the ground are known as fog.
Freshwater: A lake, river, or spring is a source of freshwater, which animals can drink.
Glacier: A glacier is a mass of ice that moves slowly across a land mass.
Great Lakes: The Great Lakes are the biggest freshwater bodies of water in the world, located in the United States.
Greenhouse Gas: Gases in the atmosphere that absorb solar heat reflected by Earth's surface, contributing to warming of the atmosphere, are greenhouse gases.
Groundwater: Groundwater is water found in an aquifer.
Humidity: The amount of water vapor in the air is the humidity.
Ice: Ice is water in solid form.
Ice Cap: An ice cap is an area of less than 19,000 square miles covered by ice.
Ice Sheet: Ice sheets are glacial ice areas that cover a large expanse.
Lake: A lake is a body of water that is surrounded by land.
Microscopic: Microscopic describes something very small.
Pollutant: A pollutant is a substance that harms a natural resource.
Precipitation: Precipitation includes all types of water that fall to Earth.
River: A river is a big stream of fresh water that flows.
Runoff: When fluid overflows from a farm or factory, it's known as runoff.
Snowmelt: Melted water from snow is snowmelt.
Temperature: The level of heat or cold, measured by a thermometer, is temperature.
Transpiration: Water that evaporates from plants is transpiration.
Vapor: Vapor is liquid that is suspended in air.
Water Cycle: Water moves between the land, bodies of water, and atmosphere in a process known as the water cycle.
Weather: Weather describes the state of the atmosphere, and it includes atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, cloudiness, precipitation, and wind.
Wind: Wind is air that moves from areas of high pressure to low-pressure zones.
A special Thank You! to our friends Ms. Platt, Meghen, Lauren, Sam, and Fiona from the Friends of Bay Mionette in Alabama for sharing these terms with us. It's because of community friends like them we can work one step at a time preserving our natural habitats from Texas to Alabama and beyond.
The things you do every day have an impact on your water quality. Small changes to your routine protects the water quality for all of us. Here are some ways you can be a part of protecting water quality:
Keep Our Creeks Clean: Clean up After Your Dog!
Think picking up dog poop is unpleasant? Try drinking it. Pet waste washes into our storm drains and pollutes our creeks and lakes. Dog poop is a major contributor to stormwater pollution. Rain and melting snow/ice flows across our yards, dog parks and trails on its way to creeks via our storm drains. Dog poop contains bacteria and is high in nitrogen and phosphorus, which are nutrients that negatively affect our waters.
Pets and wildlife are major sources of water contamination because their waste contains harmful bacteria and parasites. Dog feces can contain fecal coliform bacteria, which can spread diseases like Salmonella, Giardia, and Campylobacter, causing serious illness in humans.
You Can Make A Difference
Approximately 29,046 dogs live in Abilene. That many dogs creates a lot of waste!
Be a responsible pet owner. Be prepared. Carry bags with you to pick up pet waste. We know, It Happens! Just use one of your bags to scoop it, bag it and trash it. Please put those bags in an available trash bin or wait to throw it away when you get home. Don’t forget to scoop the poop in your own yard. (Especially before it rains)
Keep Your Trails Clean and Safe
Picking up dog waste protects water quality, it also keeps our local trails clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.
These tips are from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to stay Septic-smart.
How to care for your septic system
Septic system maintenance is not complicated and it does not need to be expensive. Upkeep comes down to four key elements:
Inspect and Pump Frequently
- The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected at least once a year.
- There are four major factors that will decide the frequency your septic system requires pumping: household size, total wastewater generated, volume of solid in wastewater and septic tank size.
Here’s what you need to know.
A septic service maintenance call will entail inspecting for leaks and examine the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank. The service provider should note repairs completed and the tank condition in your system’s service report. Be sure to keep a copy of all maintenance records.
Use Water Efficiently
The average single-family home uses nearly 70 gallons of indoor water per individual, per day. Just a single leaky or running toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day. All of the water a household uses gets sent directly to its septic system. The more water you conserve, the less that ends up in your septic system. There are some simple ways you can save water:
- High-efficiency toilets. Toilet use accounts for up to 30% of all household water use. Older homes that have toilets with 3.5 to 5 gallon tank reservoirs should be replaced with high-efficiency models that use 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
- Washing Machines. Washing small loads of laundry on your machine’s large load cycle wastes a ton of water and electricity. Select the proper load size to reduce water use. When hooked up to a septic system, doing all your laundry in one day might seem like a time-saver but it can actually harm your system because it doesn’t allow the tank enough time to treat the waste water and could actually flood your drain field. Consider a high-efficiency washer or a washer with the ENERGY STAR label to cut down on water (50% less) and less energy (35% less).
Properly Dispose of Waste
Whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower or bath, everything that goes down your drains end up in your septic system. What goes down the drain affects how well your septic system works. Your septic system is not a trash can. Do not flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper. Never flush any of these items:
- Cooking grease or oil
- Flushable wipes
- Feminine hygiene products
- Dental floss
- Cigarette butts
- Coffee Grounds
- Cat Litter
- Paper towels
- Any kinds of medications
- Household chemicals
Your septic system is designed to contain a collection of organisms to digest and treat household waste. Pouring toxins down your drain can kill these organisms and harms your septic system.
Maintain Your Drain Field
Your drain field-a component of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank-is an important part of your septic system. NEVER park or drive on your drain field. Plant trees a good distance away from your drain field to keep roots from growing into your septic system. Keep roof drains, sump pumps, and other rainwater drainage systems away from your drain field area. Excess water slows down or stops the wastewater treatment process.
Each year, enough trash to fill 512 dump trucks is picked up along Abilene roadways; some trash can end up in our local waterways. When it rains, trash from roads and parking lots washes into storm drains that lead directly to creeks and which can be harmful to birds, fish, and other wildlife.
Here are some ways that you can help keep it clean around your home and community.
At Your Home
- Pick up any litter around your home, including the driveway, sidewalk, and gutter.
- Make sure that your trash and recycle cans lids are securely attached.
- Dispose products like paint, oil, electronics and other hazardous waste, properly. Visit City of Abilene’s Environmental Recycling Center for more information.
In Your Community
- Food and snack packaging make up 41% of collected litter. Bags, wrappers, cups, lids, etc. should be thrown away in a trash can with a sealable lid.
- Remember to use reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags from the store.
- Use a refillable drinking water bottle rather than purchasing bottled water in plastic.
At Your Work
- Put trash containers and cigarette butt receptacles at convenient locations used by employees and visitors, like entry/exit points or break areas.
- Check trash containment areas every day to make sure dumpster lids are closed.
- When hauling construction/landscaping materials or debris, make sure your load is securely covered when transporting.
Keep our creeks Clean. Properly maintain your lawn.
Lawn care, landscaping and pest control practices are major contributors to stormwater pollution. Rain or melting snow/ice flows across yards, rooftops, paved areas, picking up leaves, grass clippings, garden and lawn chemicals. This flows directly into the storm drain system.
Why Does It Matter?
Nutrients and other chemicals from yard waste can cause excessive algae growth and toxin production. Algae blooms can rob the organisms that live in our streams from the oxygen they need to survive, killing fish along the way, not to mention it makes water from the tap taste funky and that just ruins the taste of our sweet Texas tea.
You Can Make a Difference!
- Don’t scalp your lawn when mowing. Leave your grass fairly long and within the City’s Code Compliance for grass height.
- Leave the grass blades on the lawn, bag and put in the garbage or compost them. Do not blow clippings into the gutter or street.
- Compost or throw away leaves and other organic matter instead of putting it in the street. Excessive leaves and organic material can contribute to high nutrient levels in the water.
- Enjoy the outdoors and hand pick your weeds. If you must spray, spot treat for weeds.
- If the forecast calls for rain in the next two days, don’t fertilize. The rain will only wash the fertilizer off your lawn, down the gutter and into the storm drain.
- Fertilize only when necessary and be sure to follow the instructions. It goes against the Texas way of living which is, “If a little is good then more must be better.” It actually weakens your lawn and the excess runs off into the storm drain.
- Have your soil tested so you know exactly what nutrients are needed for your lawn - contact the Texas A&M Soil Testing Lab
- Use compost whenever possible it has many more benefits for your landscaping and improves the soil’s health.
- Direct downspouts from your home gutter system to depressed areas or garden/flower beds so that water soaks into your yard and doesn’t run into the street.
- You can water your lawn too much. Too much of anything is bad including watering your lawn. Excessive runoff wastes water and washes any fertilizer or nutrients you’ve added down the street into the storm drain.
Lawn Design Options
- Consider a rain garden and direct runoff from your roof to drain on the garden. Harvesting rainwater is best.
- Consider using porous materials (bricks, gravel, flagstone) for your sidewalks and driveways instead of impervious materials (concrete, asphalt).
- Add trees and shrubs to capture and hold rainwater before it can reach the ground.
Those soap suds are not clean!
Washing your car in a driveway or street means the dirty water flows untreated into the nearest storm drain and to the nearest creek and lake. This used water contains residue from gasoline, rust, motor oil, exhaust fumes (caked on your tail pipe). The soap you use may also contain phosphates, which can cause algae blooms in waterways.
Wash Your Car at a Car Wash
While it is not against the city’s ordinance to wash your car in your driveway, it is not good practice. Take your car to a commercial car wash where the wash water is directed to a treatment system and in most cases they recycle and reuse it. If you must was your car at home, do it on the lawn because it allows the water to be absorbed by the grass. This is an easy 2 for 1: Your car gets washed and your lawn gets watered at the same time.
Maintain your Vehicle
- Maintain your vehicle and repair any fluid leaks or spills immediately. Those drips on the pavement will be picked up with the next rain storm and washed into the nearest creek.
- Make plans to capture and clean up spills from your work area, if you work on your own vehicle.
- Recycle used vehicle fluids at the Environmental Recycling Center Product Exchange Program. NEVER hose down a spill.
How do I get rid of these chemicals?
We’ve all had to get rid of used motor oil, left over paint and solvents, and fertilizer. Please be sure to recycle or properly dispose of these items at the City’s Environmental Recycling Center. Taking them to the environmental center in town means you are keeping them from accidentally ending up in our waterways. Do NOT throw these materials in the trash. They end up in the landfill and leach into the ground and our groundwater supply.
What are some household hazardous waste items?
Household hazardous waste are products that contain hazardous chemicals and ingredients requiring special care. These are products that can catch fire, react when mixed with another chemical, are toxic or corrosive and can even explode under certain circumstances. Here is a list of just a few items that need to be disposed of correctly:
- Household cleaners Laundry Products Lawn & Garden Products
- Car Products/Used Oil Paint thinners Fertilizers
- Fuel Turpentine Insecticide/Pesticides
- Batteries Cooking Oil Mercury Thermometers
- Fluorescent tubes Paint/stains Pet products
- Pool chemicals
For more information on how and where to dispose of these items, call the Environmental Recycling Center at 325-672-2209.
Here in Abilene, we take great pride in keeping our city parks, creeks, lakes, streets and neighborhoods clean. Do your part in keeping our precious water clean. The City of Abilene partners with the local non-profit, Keep Abilene Beautiful to host area-wide clean up events for neighborhoods, schools, and at our local parks and lakes. Groups can adopt a street or creek to clean. We are always working to plan new and exciting ways for you to be involved in watershed protection. Get in touch with Keep Abilene Beautiful or visit their website to find out about upcoming events and get involved with making Abilene the best place to live, work, play and visit.
Citizens of Abilene can also take advantage of the Citizens Convenience Station, the Environmental Recycling Center, Neighborhood Recycling Centers, and the Abilene Brush Center to dispose of bulky items, recycle household hazardous materials and drop off large limbs, branches, and leaves. Every little bit helps. Keeping those items out of the landfill and out of our waterways is the best way to reuse and recycle items that would normally be considered pollutants if left in the roadway, illegally dumped in our parks and lakes. All of us can do our part.
More Ways to Learn
Help Us Keep It Clean!
Bring water to life today with a fun and fascinating FREE classroom program. To sign up contact the Stormwater Education office at 325-734-3301.
Keep Our Water Clean
GRADES K-7 | 45-60 minutes
Gather around an interactive model to discover the journey rain takes in and around your home, school or neighborhood. Students discover how people impact waterways in Abilene and what that means for our environment. They observe how water pollution occurs, identify typical city and rural contaminants and understand their part in preventing stormwater pollution.
*Availability is limited and is on a first come first serve basis.
- Educational Programs
- Lesson Plans
- Water Festival (possible option for public service departments)
**Abilene ISD has two of these interactive ecoscape models for teachers to utilize on their own. Please contact your Science Curriculum Director at AISD Administration Offices to reserve. Feel free to utilize the EcoScape lesson plan below in preparing for your own "Keep Our Water Clean" lesson.
Take a look at these additional earth science, social studies and geography lesson and activity resources for the classroom:
- Project WET: Water Education Today
- US EPA WaterSense Kids
- Keeping All of Our Waterways Clean
- How’s My Waterway
- US Geological Society: Water Science School
- Water Education: Lesson Plans for Texas Educators
- Keep Texas Wild: Water Education Activities and Lesson Plans
- Take Care of Texas: Water, Waste and Recycling Lesson Plans
The construction industry has some of the highest levels of responsibility regarding stormwater pollution prevention. By following guidelines established by the EPA and TCEQ, you can have a large impact on protecting the Abilene watershed.
How Construction Impacts Water Quality
Polluted stormwater runoff from construction sites often flows to storm drainage systems and ultimately is discharged into local creeks and lakes. The runoff can contain:
- Sediment in quantities much higher than what is deposited naturally
- Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous that can cause significant water quality impairment.
- Solid and sanitary wastes, pesticides, oil and grease, concrete truck washout, construction chemicals, construction debris, metals and other by-products of construction processes.
Effective construction site pollution prevention can dramatically reduce pollution into Abilene waterways. There are rules established by the EPA and TCEQ which the construction industry is required to follow. The City of Abilene also has ordinances regarding construction/development sites. Visit the City of Abilene Construction Ordinances or the Construction Site Inspection Program page for rules, regulations and assistance.
- Informational Brochures and Helpful Checklists
- Links to specific City Of Abilene Construction Ordinance page
- Construction Site Inspections
- Hazardous Substances
- Erosion & Sediment Control
- City Of Abilene Planning & Development page
- City Of Abilene Building Inspection/Permits page
- City Of Abilene Traffic Services page
- City Of Abilene Street Services page
Stormwater runoff from municipal operations can affect water quality. These activities range from the storage and handling of harmful chemicals to the maintenance of city properties, vehicles, roads, parks, and storm sewer systems.
Activities such as integrated pest management, water conservation, recycling, erosion control, proper storage of materials, repair of equipment, spill clean-up and education programs can prove to be very effective in addressing these pollutant sources.
Stormwater Runoff for City Operations
- Water quality and quantity are impacted by stormwater runoff from municipal facilities and activities such as routine maintenance of municipal buildings, grounds and vehicles; outdoor storage; materials handling, spills and leak; waste management; and application of pesticides and fertilizers.
- The Stormwater Services Division has supported City of Abilene employees in adopting best practices to reduce stormwater pollution and bring them into compliance with local, state and federal regulations.