Campaigning to Prevent Pollution

From household waste to automotive chemicals, paints and yard debris, more than just stormwater can make its way untreated through storm drains and into our local water bodies. These illicit discharges are not only harmful to our ponds, streams and lakes, but they are also illegal. As part of their Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the New Castle County Department of Special Services and the City of Wilmington teamed up to develop a public outreach initiative, named 302STOPPIT, that was designed to spread public awareness of illicit discharges and to encourage New Castle County residents to participate in stopping pollution.

Many pollutants can unknowingly enter the storm drains through our day-to-day activities, and a seemingly harmless action can have a profound effect on the aquatic life and vegetation in the local water bodies. If proper disposal and procedures are not followed, simple tasks such as routine lawn care, car washing, and dog walking can lead to fertilizers and pesticides, detergents, and pet wastes that carry viruses and parasites being washed into the storm drain system. 302STOPPIT aims to teach and reinforce these principles to eliminate the discharge before it occurs, while also providing a dedicated hotline to allow the public to report any potential illicit discharges (PIDs) they encounter.

Routine lawn care can lead to yard debris, fertilizers and pesticides entering a storm drain system.

Since 2015, KCI has managed DelDOT and New Castle County’s Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) programs. Our team of scientists is responsible for investigating any PIDs reported through the 302STOPPIT hotline. In its first year, more than 70 tips of water and sewer pollution were reported to the hotline—a significant increase in the number of reports received in previous years.

Issue Reports Received
Motor oil or other auto chemicals 8
Pet waste 4
Yard waste and debris 37
Foam, stains, paint, or other chemicals 10
Other (food waste, trash, concrete, etc.) 15

The above table breaks down the types of pollutants that were reported during the first year of the 302STOPPIT campaign.

Proper disposal of pet wastes can help prevent viruses and parasites from entering our local bodies of water.

When the hotline receives a PID tip, KCI immediately mobilizes a field crew onsite to investigate and confirm the severity of pollutants entering the MS4 and to determine the corrective actions. For instance, 302STOPPIT received a report indicating that a septic tank was overflowing into a nearby storm drain. On the same day, a KCI field crew observed the illicit discharge of raw sewage flowing into a street and entering a catch basin. They quickly contacted the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, who worked with the homeowner to stop the leakage. In only a weekend’s time, the pollution was reported, investigated and eliminated.

Public involvement is an important step in making improvements to the water quality of our stormwater runoff that feeds our streams and wetlands. For more information on illicit discharges and on how to prevent water pollution, visit the STOPPIT website.