Stormwater 101

What is stormwater?

Stormwater is runoff from rain or other types of precipitation that flows over surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, streets, and sidewalks. These surfaces are called impervious surfaces because water can't soak into them. As it flows over these surfaces, stormwater picks up and transports different kids of pollutants including dirt, fertilizers, pet waste, oil, grass clippings, and litter, to name a few. These pollutants are then carried into our storm drainage system (called the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or MS4), which drains directly into our playa lakes and the Yellow House and Blackwater draws, untreated.

Stormwater drainage system

Why is stormwater a problem?

As our city becomes increasingly developed with more roads, parking lots, cars, and homes, urbanization profoundly impacts both the quantity and quality of our stormwater. Stormwater runoff is considered a non-point source of pollution, meaning the pollutants are from many widespread sources. This type of pollution is very difficult to control. Because polluted runoff is caused by so many of our everyday activities, each person must do their part to help improve water quality.

Why do we need to manage stormwater runoff?

Stormwater runoff needs to be managed just like any other natural resource. Stormwater runoff can dramatically affect the quality of water bodies used for drinking water and recreational activities. What we do in Lubbock doesn't just affect us. Our actions directly impact those cities and people downstream of us.