General Information On Water Quality

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The first table on this page concerns cause and effect. The effects on our waterbased resources specifically regard urban runoff. The three tables that follow specify - according to activity (Commercial,Household, Construction) - the most common pollutants and some Best Management Practices (BMP). BMPs are simple actions you can take to reduce the impact on our waterways and all the resources that are dependent on them.

Environmental Concerns and Receiving Water Impacts Associated with Urban Runoff

Resource/ Water Use
Concern
Potential Negative Impact On Resource/Water Use
Cause
Ground-water
Lower Dry-Season Reserves
* groundwater pollution *lower dry-season base flow in watercourses * lower drinking water reserves Increased Impervious Catchment Surface Area
Aquatic Habitat
Erosion
* physical destruction of habitat High Peak Discharges and Runoff Volumes
Fluctuating Water Levels and Velocities
* altered thermal and mixing characteristics *reduced habitat diversity *erosion High Peak Discharges and Runoff Volumes & Low Dry-Season Ground Water Reserves
Low Dry-Season Base Flow
*elimination of spawning beds *reduced habitat *reduced dilution capacity Low Dry-Season Groundwater Reserves
Sedimentation
*smothering of bottom communities and spawning beds *filling of stormwater impoundments *transport of particulate-associated pollutants Erosion & Suspended Solids
Turbidity
*lower dissolved oxygen *reduced prey capture *clogging of fish gills Suspended Solids
Low Dissolved Oxygen
*lethal and non-lethal stress to aquatic organisms Bio-degradable organic material
Metals, Organic contaminates, Chlorides
*lethal and non-lethal stress to aquatic organisms in water column and bottom sediments *bioaccumulation of contaminants and related food chain effects *osmotic stress Urban Pollution
Increased Water Temperature
*lethal and non-lethal stress to sensitive cold water aquatic organisms *increased metal toxicity and hydrocarbon solubility Solar Heating of Urban Surfaces & Stored Runoff Water
Bacteria
*diseases of aquatic organisms *shellfish contamination Fecal Contamination
Eutrophication
*algae blooms and nuisance aquatic plant growth *low dissolved oxygen *odours Nutrient Enrichment
Public Water Supply
Lower Dry-Season Reserves
*reduced water supply Lower Dry-Season Groundwater Reserves
Turbidity
*taste *appearance Suspended Solids
Metals, Organic Contaminates, Nitrates, Chlorides
*taste *odour *public health Urban Pollution
Bacteria
*public health Fecal Contamination
Wildlife Habitat
Flooding and Erosion
*physical destruction of environment *dewatering and flooding of key habitat areas at critical times *reduction in streambank cover vegetation High Peak Discharges and Runoff Volumes & Sedimentation
Recreation and Aesthetics
Nature Enjoyment
*see Aquatic Habitat and Wildlife Habitat Se Aquatic Habitat and Wildlife Habitat
Bacteria
*public health in body contact waters *degradation of game fisheries and shellfish beds Fecal Contamination
Agricultural, Residential, and Industrial Land Use
Flooding and Erosion
*public safety *damages to crops and farmland *damages to building and contents *reduction of useable land area High Peak Discharges and Runoff Volumes & Sedimentation
Adapted From: Urban Runoff Quality Control Guidelines for British Columbia. B.C. Ministry of Environment. 1992

 

Source Control BMPs for Commercial and Industrial Activities
CONTAMINANT SOURCES BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Suspended Solids Exposed soils, organic and inorganic debris left on urban surfaces. Cover exposed soils and debris stockpiles.
Clean and maintain business sites.
Sweep pavement and roofs rather than pressure washing.
Stabilize eroding banks and unpaved areas.
Preserve stream corridors.
Oxygen-demanding substances Decaying vegetation, animal wastes, food wastes, and chemical wastes Fix, cover, or berm leaky dumpsters.
Promptly clean up outdoor spills.
Properly recycle, compost, and dispose of wastes.
Sweep pavement and roofs rather than pressure washing.
Toxic metals and organics, oil and grease Vehicle repair, paints, fuel and waste oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, battery acid, solvents, cleaners, sealers, pesticides, leaky dumpsters, cleaning vents, oil leaks in vehicles and equipment, steam cleaning, equipment maintenance Maintain a clean and organized work area.
Do not sand or grind outside, unless on a tarp.
Clean up metal dust and shavings.
Cover containers and materials.
Cover or berm oily wastes and dumpsters.
Properly recycle and dispose of used and excess materials.
Handle toxic materials carefully.
Use care when filling and draining containers.
Plan for and control spills.
Cover and properly drain fuelling and loading areas.
Wash vehicles and parts in designated and properly drained areas.
Minimize pesticide use (use Integrated Pest Management).
Repair oil leaks on vehicles and equipment.
Recycle oil where possible.
Properly dispose of non-recyclable wastes.
Install and maintain oil-water separators.
Nutrients Decaying vegetation, animal wastes, fertilizers, detergents, exposed soils Control Erosion
Plant cover vegetation on exposed soils
Carefully choose plants and landscape features.
Properly dispose of or compost organic wastes.
Do not dump or compost plant debris near receiving water bodies.
Apply fertilizer sparingly and at the right time.
Wash only in designated and properly drained areas.
Use low-phosphate detergents.
All Illicit dumping, improper connections to storm sewers, poor waste handling and disposal practices, erosion Comprehensive education and technical support.
Inspection, follow-up and enforcement of BMPs
Eliminate improper and illegal connections to storm sewers.
Control erosion.
Adapted From: Urban Runoff Quality Control Guidelines for British Columbia. B.C. Ministry of Environment. 1992
Source Control BMPs For Construction Activities
CONTAMINANT SOURCES BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Sediment, nutrients, particulate-associated metals and organics, oil and grease Clearing or grading land, construction near stream Plan the development to fit the topography, soils, drainage patterns and natural vegetation of the site.
Avoid unnecessary modification for the site to suit a particular development design.
Preserve vegetation and cover soils.
Stage work to minimize the disturbance area and duration of exposure.
Establish cover vegetation immediately after final grading.
Control runoff during construction.
Prevent off-site water from running over disturbed areas.
Keep runoff velocities low.
Stabilize disturbed areas with temporary covers or mechanical-structural methods.
Install sediment controls.
Clean catch basins.
Fix any oil leaks in equipment.
Preserve the stream corridor and take steps to enhance it.

Toxic and acidic pollutants, sediments Handling fresh concrete or other cement-related mortars Never wash fresh concrete mortar into a storm drain or stream use designated wash-out areas.
When building concrete aggregate driveways, wash fines to the side, to straw bales, or to a sediment basin.
Toxic metals and organics, oil and grease Painting, sanding, plastering, applying drywall paper or tile, any activities using paints, batteries, solvents, or adhesives Never wash fresh concrete mortar into a storm drain or stream use designated wash-out areas.
When building concrete aggregate driveways, wash fines to the side, to straw bales, or to a sediment basin.
Keep residue such as paint chips from entering storm drains (e.g. catch chips on a tarp).
Keep paints, solvents, chemicals, waste containers, and soiled rags covered from the rain.
Prepare for and clean up spills.
Minimize wastes and properly dispose of or recycle all wastes.
Fix any oil leaks in equipment.

All General contracting and construction site management, training employees Include training about water quality BMPs.
Ensure all workers know proper BMP procedures.
Ensure all applicable BMPs are followed.
Adapted From: Urban Runoff Quality Control Guidelines for British Columbia. B.C. Ministry of Environment. 1992
Source Control BMPs For Household Activities
CONTAMINANT SOURCES BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Suspended solids Exposed soils, organic and inorganic grit and debris left on urban surfaces Introduce and enforce litter control programs.
Control pet populations.
Introduce and enforce dog littler bylaws.
Promptly remove or properly store household garbage and yard wastes.
Sweep pavement and roofs rather than washing.
Stabilize exposed soils and banks.
Oxygen-demanding substances Pet faeces, decaying household and yard wastes Properly dispose of or compost household and yard wastes.
Cover, clean and maintain trash can areas.
Clean up and properly dispose of pet wastes.
Toxic metals and organics, oil and grease Fluid leaks from vehicles, illicit dumping, household cleaners, paints, pesticides Repair fluid leaks in vehicles.
Wash vehicles on the lawn rather than on paved surfaces connected to storm drains.
Recycle used oil.
Use alternative, less hazardous household products.
Properly handle, store, and dispose of hazardous household products.
Implement household hazardous waste collection.
Sweep pavement and roofs rather than washing.
Absorb spills using kitty litter.
Minimize pesticide use (use Integrated Pest Management).
Nutrients Decaying vegetation and animal wastes, fertilizers, detergents, exposed soils Stabilize exposed soils with vegetation
Collect and properly dispose of or compost yard wastes and pet faeces.
Do not dump or compost plant debris near receiving water bodies.
Apply fertilizer sparingly and at the right time.
Use low-phosphate detergents.
Wash vehicles on the lawn rather than on paved surfaces connected to storm drains.
Bacteria Pet faeces, decaying household and yard wastes Collect and properly dispose of or compost yard wastes and pet faeces.
Cover, clean and maintain trash can areas.
All Illicit dumping, poor waste handling and disposal practices, erosion Comprehensive public education.
Erosion control.

Adapted From: Urban Runoff Quality Control Guidelines for British Columbia. B.C. Ministry of Environment. 1992

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