Lafayette Parish Citizens Guide to Understanding Stormwater

top 10 things to put in a storm drain

Litter and Waterways PSA
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Stormwater Runoff PSA
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 Stormwater RunoffBayou Vermilion Watershed

Storm drainWhat is Stormwater runoff? Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground.
Why is Stormwater runoff a problem? Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system that leads directly to local waterways including the Vermilion River. Anything that enters a storm water system is discharged untreated into the waterways we could use for water activities including boating, fishing, and swimming.

The effects of pollution - Polluted Stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people.

  • Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment can also destroy aquatic habitats.
  • Excess nutrients coming from detergents and fertilizer and animal waste can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can’t exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
  • Bacteria and other pathogens that can come from mammal waste can create health hazards closing the area from swimming, fishing, and other water activities.
  • Debris- plastic bags, six pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts - washed into waterways can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds. Plus, it ruins the beauty of the waterways!
  • Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. DO NOT POUR DOWN STORMDRAINS! Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
  • Polluted Stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.



Students learning about storm water pollution

Litter free waterway

Litter free waterway

Stormwater Pollution Solution

Recycle or properly dispose of household products that contain chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, and used motor oil and other auto fluids.

Don’t pour them onto the ground or into storm drains! Don't pollute

Lawn care

Excess fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute waterways. In addition, yard clippings and leaves can wash into storm drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter to waterways. It may also hinder proper drainage.

  • Don’t over water your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.
  • Compost or mulch yard waste. Don’t leave it in the street or sweep it into the storm drains or waterways. Lafayette city and unincorporated parish have curbside yard waste pick up which is turned into a desirable, totally useful, nutrient-rich soil additive. Come pick up the end product, compost, free of charge.
  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects.


Septic systems

Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by Stormwater and discharged into nearby waterbodies. Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns.

  • Inspect your system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary (every 3 to 5 years)
  • Don’t dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.


Auto care

Washing your car and degreasing auto parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the storm sewer system. Dumping automotive fluids into storm drains has the same result as dumping the materials directly into a water body.
  • Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles the wastewater, or wash your car on your lawn so the water infiltrates into the ground.
  • Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop off or recycling locations.



Product Better Alternative
Bleach ​Borax or hydrogen peroxide
​Chrome cleaner ​Apple cider vinegar to clean, baby oil to polish
​Drain cleaner ​Boiling water and plunger or plumber's snake
​Engine cleaner ​Steam clean the engine in a dedicated service area
​Fiberglass stain remover ​Baking soda paste, scrub pad, "elbow grease"
​Paint stripper ​Physically remove old paint without chemical use. Avoid products containing methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, benzene, trichloroethane, xylene or toluene.
​Scouring powders ​Baking soda and "elbow grease".
​Window cleaner ​Vinegar and lemon juice mixed in lukewarm water.
​Wood polish ​Olive oil or almond oil for interior wood; use water - or borax-based products



Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters.
  • When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.



Construction Sites - Erosion controls that aren’t maintained can cause excessive amounts of sediment and debris to be carried into the Stormwater system. Construction vehicles can leak fuel, oil, and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by Stormwater and deposited into local water bodies.

  • Divert stormwater away from disturbed or exposed areas of the construction site.
  • Install silt fences, vehicle mud removal areas, vegetative cover, and other sediment and erosion controls and properly maintain them, especially after rainstorms.
  • Prevent soil erosion by minimizing disturbed areas during construction projects, and seed and mulch bare areas as soon as possible.


Education is essential to changing people’s behavior. Signs and markers near storm drains warn residents that pollutants entering the drains will be carried untreated into a local water body.

If you have any questions or comments please contact Lafayette Consolidated Government Environmental Quality at 291-8529 or LCG EQ Hotline

Only rain down the drain

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