Stormwater Pollution Prevention

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
Water Pollution degrades surface waters, making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming and other activities.

As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches.

Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our nation's water quality. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

The Village of Cary discharges stormwater from its storm sewer system under IEPA General National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit No. ILR40.

As a condition of the permit, the Village is required to set goals for a five-year period in order to reduce pollution to the receiving waters. These goals are described in the Notice of Intent (NOI).

After each program year, the Village must document its status of compliance with, and any changes to, the Notice of Intent in an Annual Facility Inspection Report (AFIR).

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Resources:
McHenry County Division of Water

Wintertime Stormwater Pollution Prevention
With colder weather right around the corner, water pollution prevention is very critical. Winter brings with it unique and significant pollution concerns to our lakes and rivers. Because the ground will be frozen over the next few months, it acts like a hard surface similar to asphalt or concrete. It no longer has the ability to act like a natural filter.

Pollutants accumulate in snow banks and ice all winter long. Once the snow melts, all the grime, grit, dirt, road salt and other pollutants are washed into our stormwater systems, rivers and lakes. This seasonal addition of melt water can result in the largest single annual water runoff event in our region and contributes significant amounts of pollutants to sensitive streams and rivers. It is important that we take steps to reduce the amount of potential pollution sources during the winter months.

Be stingy with your salt application and consider alternative salting methods. Road salt can be harmful to plants, aquatic life and drinking water supplies. Salt alternatives like potassium acetate (KA) or calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) are less damaging to homes and landscaping and can be used to de-ice and improve traction on a walkway or driveway. If you do apply salt, shovel first and apply as little as possible.

Correctly calibrate equipment. Contractors and road crews should correctly calibrate their road salt application equipment. Not only will this benefit the environment by preventing over-application, but it will save northeast Illinois communities thousands of dollars in their road salt allocations.

Rethink rinsing your garage floor. While it is tempting to take out the hose and wash that ugly, gray sludge and salt off your car and out of your garage on a mild winter day - please stop! Residue left from road salt, oil, gas and other road pollutants drops from your car and ends up on the garage floor. Your garage runoff most likely drains into a storm sewer drain, ditch, river or lake, which means you are flushing pollutants from your garage right into our streams, and eventually into the Fox River. One alternative is to clean your car by taking it to a commercial car wash where the drains flow to waste water treatment facilities. A clean car also means a cleaner garage!

Watch your waste. Picking up pet waste is just as important in the wintertime as it is in the warmer months. Animal waste can be a significant source of harmful bacterial and disease. Cooler temperatures and frozen soil slow down the decay process. When the snow finally does melt, you will have a very unpleasant surprise waiting if pet waste is not removed daily. If you have horses or livestock, don't spread manure in the winter months. Manure is not effective in cold weather and doesn't break down in the soil. It accumulates on the surface and is then washed directly into streams and lakes during thaws, contributing bacteria and excessive nutrients to our surface waters.

Winterize your rain barrel. Winter freezing and thawing can crack and damage your rain barrel and fixtures. So before the snowflakes begin to fly, disconnect your rain barrel and turn it upside down or bring it inside somewhere warm and dry. Remember to reconnect your downspouts or direct rooftop drainage away from your foundation in a safe and non-erosive manner.

Cover bare soil. If you are doing earthwork in the winter, remember to maintain your construction side erosion and sediment control practices to keep soil and other pollutants on your site and out of our streams and lakes. Late winter thaws and saturated soil conditions can lead to a very muddy spring. So be prepared and maintain erosion and sediment control practices all winter long and plant winter ground cover on areas with bare soil to prevent soil erosion.

Printable version of these Wintertime Pollution Prevention tips.

How to Reduce Pollutants in Stormwater Runoff
The Village of Cary sponsors or participates in a number of programs that help improve water quality by working to eliminate pollutants, such as:

Stream Clean Up Event
Spring Cleanup Event
Annual Cary Pride Cleanup Day Event

Please call (847) 639-0003 to report any suspicious discharges to the storm sewer system or a body of water.

Impacts of stormwater discharges on water bodies
More information can be found on the following sites or fact sheets:
Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure
After the Storm
Rivers and Streams Begin at your Front Door
Storm Sewers - Rivers Beneath our Feet
Sourcewater Protection
Lawn Watering
Managing Your Household Chemicals
Rethinking Yard Care
EPA launches Green Infrastructure Website
Green Infrastructure uses vegetation, soils and natural processes to manage water and create healthier urban environments. This website is a one-stop shop for resources on green infrastructure that features improved navigability and up-to-date content, including a wealth of publications and tools developed by EPA, state and local governments, the private sector, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions. 
Getting more involved
Many area organizations have an interest in protecting the quality of our water. Contact any of the following organizations and find out what they are doing and how you can get involved.
Friends of the Fox River
Fox River Ecosystem Partnership
McHenry County Water Resources Division
McHenry-Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District