Storm Water Runoff is rain and snow melt that runs off surfaces like buildings, yards or hillsides, flowing down driveways, streets and channels, eventually reaching the Rio Grande. As storm water runs over these surfaces, it picks up pollutants left behind by our activity.
Most pollutants end up in the river; storm water is not treated like sewage.
According to the 1996 National Water Quality Inventory, storm water runoff is a leading source of water pollution. Even before that study it was recognized that storm water carried non-point sources of pollution.
Non-Point Source Pollution, like trash from your yard, is not usually intentional or concentrated, but it’s a problem nonetheless. Unlike sewage or industrial wastes which are regulated at their source, non-point sources must be controlled largely by individual effort.
You are the solution to Storm Water Pollution!
Storm water runoff is the most common cause of water pollution. Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is caused by discrete sources, storm water pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere. Rainwater and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites and pick up pet waste, fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease and many other pollutants on the way to the Rio Grande. Unlike sewage, storm water receives almost no treatment before it is released into the Rio Grande.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates storm water discharges under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. On November 16, 1990, the EPA published regulations (the ‘Phase I rule’) requiring NPDES permits for sources of storm water runoff. The NPDES regulations cover discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), certain industrial activities, and construction activities that disturb one acre or more of land.
The Phase I storm water rule defines “municipal separate storm sewer” at 40 CFR 122.26(b)(8) to include any conveyance or system of conveyances that is owned or operated by a state or local government entity and is designed for collecting and conveying storm water which is not part of a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (i.e., not a combined sewer). The Phase I MS4 regulations apply to MS4s serving populations of 100,000 or more.
The Storm Water Phase I Final Rule requires operators of regulated MS4s to obtain an NPDES permit and develop a storm water management program designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by storm water runoff into bodies of water.
AMAFCA, the City of Albuquerque, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the University of New Mexico are all co-permittees in the Albuquerque MS4 Permit. The permit was originally issued in 2003 and the newly updated MS4 permit was issued on March 1, 2012. The current permit covers a 5-year time frame and will expire on March 1, 2017.
On May 1, 2013 EPA published the draft Watershed-Based MS4 Permit for the Middle Rio Grande in the Federal Register. EPA also published a Fact Sheet on the draft Watershed-Based Permit to provide background information on the draft permit. Public comments were due July 1, 2013. AMAFCA comments were submitted to EPA Region 6 during the public comment period.
AMAFCA has prepared a Storm Water Management Program (SWMP) that includes the following six minimum control measures:
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Participation/Involvement
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Runoff Control
- Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
As part of the SWMP, AMAFCA staff strives to inform the public about the importance of maintaining and improving the health of our local watershed. AMAFCA is a member of the Mid Rio Grande Stormwater Quality Team (MRGSQT) which has the sole mission of informing the public about storm water quality issues. For more information about the MRGSQT, visit www.keeptheriogrand.org.
Annually, AMAFCA submits a report to EPA. The 2016 report is available below. Note that the size of the document is listed next to the link. Please allow sufficient time for it to download. It will open in a separate tab or window.
- 2016 Annual Report – 267,855 kb
Storm Water Quality
AMAFCA has a special interest in promoting storm water quality, as all of the water in our arroyos and channels eventually reaches the Rio Grande.
AMAFCA promotes storm water quality as a member of the “Storm Water Quality Team.” See the Keep the Rio Grand website for more information about this program which features Rio the Duck (you may have seen or heard our ads). The “Scoop the Poop” campaign is also one of the Storm Water Quality Team’s Initiatives. One of the ads is now:
AMAFCA has built a number of storm water quality facilities on the arroyos in its boundaries. Here are a few of them:
- Hahn Arroyo Storm Water Quality Feature
- South Diversion Channel Baffle Chute Water Quality Feature
- La Cueva Arroyo Water Quality Feature
More of these are listed on the AMAFCA Interactive Map.
As the owner of almost a hundred miles of ditches and arroyos in the Albuquerque area, AMAFCA has a special interest in promoting ditch safety. Our storms in New Mexico can arrive quickly, catching residents off guard. Just a few inches of rapidly-moving water can knock a person off their feet. As a result, the “Ditches are Deadly” program, with the slogan “Ditches are Deadly – Stay Away! Find Safe Places to Swim and Play” was developed, and is presented to schoolchildren all over the Albuquerque area. Summer ads and public service announcements also remind residents to stay out of the ditches.
AMAFCA promotes ditch safety as a member of the “Ditch and Water Safety Team.” See the City’s Ditch Safety webpage and the “Ditches are Deadly” website for more information about this program, which features summer swim passes for kids as a way to provide alternative recreation to keep them out of ditches and arroyos during monsoon season.