Illicit Discharges: Reporting Stormwater Pollution

What are illicit discharges?

An illicit discharge is an unlawful act of disposing, dumping, or any discharge of any substance other than stormwater into the storm drain system. The storm drain system consists of catch basins, yard inlets, and the street gutters that drain stormwater to them.

Examples of illicit discharges include:

  • Paint, old fuel, or other household chemicals poured into or near a storm drain;
  • Changing engine oil or antifreeze without a containment system for collecting the fluid before it hits the street and gutter;
  • Discarding yard waste, e.g. leaves, brush, and grass clippings in or near a storm drain or drainage ditch
  • Draining chlorinated swimming pool water in or near a storm drain or drainage ditch

What are illicit connections?

An illicit connection is an unlawful connection of a pipe or other direct connection to the storm drain system, drainage ditch, or any water feature that allows the discharge of non-stormwater to the system or a stream, pond, lake, or river.

Examples of illicit connections:

  • Floor drains going into the storm drain system
  • Wash water from residential washing machines, laundromats, or car washes connected to a storm drain system or ditch
  • Sewer service pipe connected into a storm structure or emptying into a stream.

See the City’s ordinance prohibiting illicit dischargesCity Code Chapter 31- Sewers and Sewage Disposal, Article I and Article VI

The Stormwater Program’s Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination (IDDE) Program Manual identifies the protocols used by Inspectors to identify, investigate, and eliminate illicit discharges. The IDDE Program Manual can be found here:

Reporting Stormwater Pollution

If you see something other than stormwater going into the drainage system or into a stream, or if you see something and are not sure what it is, i.e., flowing water when there hasn’t been any rain, you should contact the City’s Public Works Department.

  1. WHERE: The location of the incident. In order for the City to investigate we need to know where the problem is.
  2. WHEN: The sooner an incident is reported the greater the likelihood that an environmentally protective response can be made.
  3. WHAT: If you know what was released and how much, that can help determine the type of investigation needed.
  4. WHO: If you know the source of the problem or the company/individual causing the problem, please give us that information.

To report a chemical or fuel spill or other emergency situation:

  • Hopewell Fire Department or Police Department:    9-1-1

To report water pollution or illicit discharges:

  • Hopewell Department of Public Works, Stormwater Division: (804) 541-2295

To report spills or water pollution outside the City:

  • During normal work hours: VDEQ Pollution Response Program (PREP): (804) 527-5020;
  • Nights, holidays, and weekends: the Department of Emergency Management’s (DEM) 24 hour reporting number: 1 (800) 468-8892

Preventing Stormwater Pollution

The best way to prevent common illicit discharges is to implement pollution prevention and good housekeeping practices. The Stormwater Program’s Public Education & Outreach Program specifically targets these preventive initiatives in outreach to citizens. The Department of Public Works personnel are trained to implement these preventive practices within their daily job duties.

The Stormwater Program’s Pollution Prevention program manual can be found here.

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