Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, fertilizers, pet waste and other pollutants and flow into a storm drain or directly to a lake, stream, river or wetland. Polluted runoff can have many negative impacts on plants, fish, animals and people, including contaminating drinking water supplies. Debris washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish and birds. It also ruins the beauty of our ponds and lakes. Sediment particles cloud water and smother habitats for fish and plants. Nutrients like phosphates and nitrates can promote excessive algae growth, which removes oxygen from the water. Toxic substances such as antifreeze and oil from leaking cars, as well as carelessly applied pesticides, can threaten the health of fish and other aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water. Bacteria, viruses and parasites from pet waste can create health hazards, often making nearby lakes, rivers and beaches unsuitable for wading, swimming or fishing.
To find out more about stormwater go to http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/npdes/stormwater
Your watershed and water bodies
In the Northern Middlesex region, our main watershed includes the Merrimack River and its tributaries - the Concord River, Nashua River, Stony Brook and Beaver Brook.
The Northern Middlesex region’s watershed and water bodies play an important role in the quality of life we enjoy. They provide us with recreation and drinking water, support tourism, and are used by industry. The Merrimack River is a source of water for drinking supplies, swimming, boating and bathing. If you live in Lowell or Tewksbury, your drinking water comes from the Merrimack River. These waters, however, are vulnerable to pollution from a wide variety of sources.
Many of the region’s water pollution problems are due, in large part, to pollutants that “run off’ roads, parking lots, sidewalks, lawns and paved areas during storms. Many people think that stormwater is "clean" and does not harm the environment. While this opinion is understandable, as the amount of pollution from any one place is not usually significant, when all of these small contributions are combined, they can cause water quality problems.