What is StormwateR?

What happens to all that rain that falls?  Much of it soaks back into the ground replenishing our streams and waterways, and feeding our plants and natural ground cover.  But what about the rest…the stuff that doesn’t soak back into the ground?

Duluth gets about 53 inches of rain every year.  That’s 45% higher than the national average rainfall of 36.5 inches. And while much of that rain falls upon our beautiful parks and grassy lawns, the rest of it falls upon our rooftops, our driveways, and our parking lots and roads, causing what we call storm water runoff.  Storm water runoff flows over our impervious surfaces, accumulating debris, sediment, and other potentially harmful pollutants before finding its way to our lakes, streams, and ponds.  Yuck.

What does all this mean?  Well, it means we need to control and regulate how the water moves along the impervious surfaces, and how we treat it prior to letting it co-mingle with our “clean” water.  And it just so happens that the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has requirements in place to help us do just that.  The US EPA has instituted a stormwater permitting process and has allowed qualified individual States to oversee their own programs.  The State of Georgia has official oversight for our stormwater permit, but individual Counties and Cities, such as Gwinnett and Duluth, are considered Local Issuing Authorities.  That means we have the expertise and ability to oversee our stormwater programs, making sure they are compliant with EPA’s regulations for the National Stormwater Permit.

Again, what does all this mean?  In order to remain compliant with our stormwater permit, Duluth must meet several criteria.  We need to train and maintain certified staff to review, approve, inspect, and enforce all aspects of our storm water program (from plan review to inspection and maintenance of our facilities, as well as enforcement for new development as Duluth grows and thrives.) 

What’s included in Duluth’s storm water program?  And how can you help?  Good questions! 

Our staff works hard every day to protect the waters and watersheds in and around Duluth.  We approve stormwater plans for new developments only when they meet or exceed our requirements for detention (to avoid flooding), and water quality (to remove the pollutants).  We inspect all of our storm water assets (ponds, pipes, ditches, and related structures) on a regular basis to make sure they are in safe and working condition.  We respond to questions and calls relating to storm water facilities in disrepair and we maintain, repair and upgrade our facilities on an ongoing basis.  As a citizen, business person, or general user of our facilities, you are encouraged to report any problems you see or experience with storm water related assets.  Our main storm water number is 770.497.5311.  We appreciate your efforts to help keep Duluth a great place to live, work, and play!

Need more information?
To learn more about NPDES (Stormwater) permits:
To learn more about Local Issuing Authorities:
To learn more about US EPD’s NPDES Program: