Pollution Prevention

Stormwater Definitions

  • Stormwater - any excess runoff from rainfall or snowmelt that does not absorb into the ground. 
  • Impervious Surface - any surface that causes water to flow over, not through. Common examples include streets, driveways, rooftops, parking lots, and sidewalks. 
  • Non-point Source Pollution - pollution that comes from many diffuse sources, such as fertilizers, pet waste, and herbicides, instead of a single pipe our outlet. As rain or snow falls, it carries away natural and human made pollutants on lawns, in roadways, and elsewhere.
  • Point Source Pollution - pollution that comes from a single source, such as a factory outfall.  
  • Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) - In older areas of town, the storm sewers and the sanitary sewers flow in a single pipe to the wastewater treatment plant. That system works during dry weather, but when it's raining, the system is quickly overwhelmed, allowing untreated water to overflow directly into the Wabash River. These systems are being phased out, but changes to the sewer systems are expensive and take a long time to change. 
Natural land cover allows 75% or more stormwater to infiltrate into the soil
Impervious land cover creates significantly more runoff than natural land cover
Credit: U.S. EPA (2003)

Drainage Easements

If you live in a subdivision in Tippecanoe County, it's likely you have a drainage easement on your property or somewhere nearby in your neighborhood. Easements vary in size and are often located in backyards along the rear property boundary. The easement may contain underground pipes or simply consist of a swale, ditch, or channel that crosses several property lines. Similar to utility easements and power lines entering your property: you own it and you maintain it, but the utility company has the right to access for utility inspection, maintenance or repair.

Fences, sheds, retaining walls, and other obstructions within these drainageways are the primary causes of flooding and drainage problems in subdivisions. These temporary (or permanent) structures impede flow through channels intended for drainage. Stacks of bricks or other blockages intentionally placed within the swale—along with filling in the swale—are also common culprits when complaints arise for stagnant water.  

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Proper Yard Waste Disposal

Loose grass clippings cannot be placed in the street. They must be placed in yard waste bags, recycled back onto lawns, or composted.

City of Lafayette: From October-April, homeowners may place leaves in a pile by the curb to be collected. Leaves will be picked up on your regular trash day or following day. Please keep leaf piles free of sticks and trash. Do not place leaves in ditches or under or too close to vehicles. Do not place leaves in plastic bags. To find more about Lafayette's leaf collection and waste guidelines and pickup schedule, click here

City of West Lafayette: Rake leaves into a pile 12 inches away from the curb in a windrow. Please keep catch basins free of leaves. Have leaves raked out by Monday of your schedule collection week. Please keep leaf piles free of sticks and trash. For a complete list of regulations and schedule click here.

Town of Battleground: Place leaves in a pile near the curb. Leaves will be picked up on an as needed basis. Please keep leaf piles free of sticks and trash. Leaves and other lawn debris can be taken to the town compost center. For more details, click here.

Town of Dayton: Place leaves in paper bag and set out with trash. Leaves with be picked up with the trash on the regularly scheduled trash day. 

Tippecanoe County: Tippecanoe County: Leaves and yard debris can be brought into the Tippecanoe County Solid Waste Management District located at 2770 N 9th Street Lafayette for compost. Compost fees are $19.50 a truck load and $2.00 a bag.  

Blue is the New Green

This video reviews the Do's and Don'ts of basic stormwater pollution prevention practices that should be implemented by everyone in their home, in their yard, and when they are out and about. (Credit: Muncie Sanitary District)

Simple tips to prevent pollution

Maintain your septic system 

If you are planning on repairing a septic system, please seek help from the Tippecanoe County Board of Health. Resources, training, and information are available through the county Board of Health.

Pick up after your pet 

A quick and simple method of decreasing pollutants in runoff is to clean up after your pet. This Pet Waste brochure summarizes health risks and pollution issues than can result from pet waste that is left uncollected. 

Fix leaky vehicles 

Promptly fix and vehicle leaks. Automobile fluids are easily washed into storm sewers and end up in our streams and rivers. One pint of motor oil can cause a slick the size of a football field, contaminating hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. 

Use fertilizer and herbicide sparingly

Remeber that when you fertilize your lawn, you are allowing some of the chemicals to flow into the storm sewer system. Avoid fertilizers containing phosphorus, and always clean up any fertilizer spilled on driveways and sidewalks by sweeping it up and using it later. 

Dispose of hazardous wastes safely 

Don't dump your paint in the sewer! Tippecanoe County has facilities where household waste can be properly disposed. Contact information for these facilities can be found on tippecanoewaste.org, as well as an A-Z guide of house hold waste and instruction of proper disposal.

Wash your vehicle like a pro!

The soapy runoff from washing your vehicle in your driveway can pollute the storm sewer system. Contents of the storm sewer system are not treated and flow directly to local streams and the Wabash River. One simple way to minimize pollution from do-it-yourself car washing is to wash your vehicle on your lawn and use a phosphorus-free soap. Washing your car on your lawn will allow the water to soak into the ground and filter out pollutants. Using phosphorus-free soap helps decrease the amount of nutrients entering our waterways. 

The most eco-friendly option, of course, is to take your vehicle to a car wash! Excess soap and water from car washes are directed to a wastewater treatment plant, decreasing risks to natural surface waters.