Storm Water Management

Defining Storm Water & Its Management

Collection of storm water is an important responsibility of the City of Portage. The City of Portage maintains approximately 210 miles of storm sewer infrastructure ranging from local street drainage to 66 inches-diameter collection pipes. In Portage most storm water is collected in catch basins and infiltrated back to the ground. The city also maintains approximately 100 storm water outfalls to Portage Creek, Austin Lake, West Lake and Gourdneck Lake. These surface water discharges are permitted by the State of Michigan by a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Storm Water permit.

Helpful Programs & Recommendations

The city undertakes programs annually to address localized flooding issues along the street and the public right-of-way. Storm water runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks and streets prevent storm water from naturally soaking into the ground. Storm water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river or wetland. In Portage, most storm water flows into retention basins and infiltrates into the ground. Any storm water that is discharged untreated can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people.

Illicit Discharge

An illicit discharge is the result of an illegal and/or improper waste discharge into storm drainage systems and receiving waters. Illicit discharges may result from the connections of non-storm water sources (such as sanitary sewers) to the storm water system or may be the result of a waste discharge spill flowing overland and into a storm sewer. An example of an illicit connection is the connection of a restaurant or automotive repair garage floor drain in a to a storm sewer. This connection results in non-storm water wastes being flushed into the storm sewer system anytime the floors are washed and water flows into the drain. An example of an illicit discharge without an illicit connection is the flushing of used motor oil down a storm sewer catch basin rather than properly recycling the waste oil.

Illicit discharges should be reported immediately to the City of Portage Department of Transportation and Utilities at 269-329-4422.

How Does the City Prevent Illicit Discharges?

The City of Portage Code of Ordinances (Chapter 64 - Storm Water, Illicit Discharges and Connections) establishes measures for controlling illicit discharges and connections:

  1. Prohibition of illicit discharges: No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged into the municipal storm drain system or watercourses any materials including, but not limited, to pollutants or waters containing any pollutants that cause or contribute to a violation of applicable water quality standards, other than storm water. The commencement, conduct or continuance of any illegal discharge to the storm drain system is prohibited, except for discharges specified in writing by the city as being necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare.
  2. Prohibition of illicit connections:
    • The construction, use, maintenance, or continued existence of illicit connections to the storm drain system is prohibited.
    • This prohibition expressly includes, without limitation, illicit connections made in the past regardless of whether the connection was permissible under law or practices applicable or prevailing at the time of connection.
    • A person is considered to be in violation of this chapter if the person connects a conduit conveying wastewater to the MS4, or allows such a connection to continue.

Common Sources of Illicit Discharge

  • Chlorinated Pool Water
  • Household Cleansers
  • Laundry
  • Motor Oil
  • Paints
  • Pesticides
  • Sanitary Wastewater
  • Wastewater
  • Weed Killers

How can you help?

  • Never sweep or blow leaves in a storm drain.
  • Use proper methods to dispose or recycle them.
  • Take used oil to a certified used oil collection center or to the Kalamazoo County Household Hazard Waste Collection Center.
  • Follow directions on pesticides and fertilizers and avoid application when rain is forecasted.
  • Pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly to keep bacteria and parasites out of our groundwater and lakes.