City of Binghamton, New York

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

As the owner/operator of a system of conveyances (curbs, ditches, catchbasins, manholes, and pipes) intended to collect stormwater and direct it to outfall locations for release into local waterways the City of Binghamton is designated as a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), and has been required to obtain coverage under the State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, GP-0-10-002. As per requirements in the general permit, the City has developed a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) plan, incorporating minimum control measures designed to help the City maintain and improve the quality of the stormwater that is discharged from its conveyance system. One of the minimum control measures in the SWMP focuses on the detection and elimination of illicit discharges to the storm sewer system.

What is an “Illicit Discharge”?

The term “illicit discharge” is defined in the EPA’s Phase II stormwater regulations as “any discharge to a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) that is not comprised entirely of stormwater, except discharges pursuant to an NPDES permit and discharges resulting from fire fighting activities”. Illicit discharges are considered “illicit” because MS4s are not designed to accept, process, or discharge such non-stormwater wastes. Common sources of illicit discharges include, but are not limited to: Sanitary wastewater; Effluent from septic tanks; Sediment from construction sites; Car wash wastewaters; Improper oil disposal; Laundry wastewaters; Improper disposal of automobile and household toxics; Yard waste; Pet waste; and Shop floor drains that are connected to the storm sewer.

Why are Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Efforts Important?

Discharges from MS4s often include wastes and wastewater from non-stormwater sources. In fact, studies have shown that up to one half of the water discharged from some MS4s was not attributable to precipitation runoff. The result is untreated stormwater discharges that contribute high levels of pollutants, including heavy metals, toxics, oil and grease, solvents, nutrients, viruses and bacteria to receiving water bodies. Pollutant levels from these illicit discharges have been shown in EPA studies to be high enough to significantly degrade receiving water quality and threaten aquatic, wildlife, and human health. In order to protect wildlife habitat and public health, the City of Binghamton has enacted a local law entitled Chapter 227.A, Prohibition of Illicit Discharges, Activities and Connections to Separate Storm Sewer Systems. The local law establishes civil and criminal penalties for anyone found to be in violation of its provisions by discharging non-stormwater wastes or illicitly connecting to the storm sewer system.

What can I do?

Residents and homeowners can seriously impact the quality of the stormwater discharged from a storm sewer system. Community awareness that what gets washed off of our lawns and streets ends up in our storm sewers and eventually our streams and rivers, can help people make better decisions when it comes to the proper disposal of waste materials. With proper storage and disposal practices, the presence of constituents such as trash, household hazardous waste, pet waste, and yard waste can be greatly reduced in our stormwater discharges. Likewise, stormwater running off of development/construction sites should be clear and clean, not laden with sediment or other contaminants. To report the instance of an illicit discharge, please use the link on this stormwater webpage to contact the Stormwater Public Contact.