OhioEPA Information and Resources

In open fields, forests and wetlands, most rain is absorbed by the soil or taken up by plants and trees. In developed areas, rain or snow that falls on impermeable roofs, parking lots, streets and lawns is not absorbed. This precipitation (called storm water or storm water runoff) enters local water bodies through storm sewer systems.

According to U.S. EPA’s National Water Quality Inventory, polluted storm water runoff is a leading cause of impairment to U.S. water bodies that do not meet water quality standards — nearly 40 percent of those surveyed. This discharge can destroy fish, wildlife and aquatic life habitats; lessen aesthetic value; and threaten public health with contaminated food, drinking water supplies and recreational waterways. Unlike pollution from sewage treatment plants, storm water pollution comes from many different sources.

Storm water runoff can dissolve, pick up and transport many types of household products that cause this pollution. Automotive waste, lawn chemicals, paints and eroded soil are all pollutants. Many types of litter can create storm water pollution as well.

More steps you can take:

  • Don’t waste water — water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best) and only water plants according to what they need. Check with your local extension service or nurseries for advice.
  • Set sprinklers to water the lawn or garden only — not the street or sidewalk.
  • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.
  • Keep your yard healthy — dethatch, use mulch, etc.
  • Sweep outside instead of using a hose.
  • Landscape using rain garden techniques to save water and reduce storm water runoff.
  • Check with your local soil and water conservation district for rain barrel information and to see if installation assistance is available.
  • Do not over apply pesticides and fertilizers. Follow directions and use judiciously. Pull weeds by hand when possible.
  • Never allow any chemicals, yard wastes or any other materials to be washed down or put into storm drains.
  • Allow roof gutters to drain over your lawn instead of draining directly to the street.
  • Reduce non-point source water pollution by minimizing use of fertilizer and pesticide on lawns.
  • Use a watering gauge when you water your lawn to prevent overwatering.

Helpful videos:

Tempest in a Channel: Stormwater Runoff’s Impact on Urban Streams

Reduce Runoff: Slow It Down, Spread It Out, Soak It In


Storm Water Management: What you can do at home (.pdf format)

Ten Things You Can Do to Prevent Stormwater Runoff Pollution (.pdf format)

Web page for businesses with storm water management questions:

Division of Surface Water’s storm water program page