Officials: Garbage ends up in the riverAs the last of the snow melts in Dickinson, spring runoff may carry waste material to local waterway.
By: Sean M. Soehren, The Dickinson Press
As the last of the snow melts in Dickinson, spring runoff may carry waste material to local waterway.
Throughout the winter, waste such as oil, mud and trash cannot be removed from the streets because of the weather. During the spring melt, material is carried through the storm water system where it is ultimately deposited in the Heart River.
“It is unsightly, but it is something we have to deal with,” Dickinson Assistant Public Works Manager Ed Krank said.
The water does not go through any purification process before being deposited in the river.
North Dakota Department of Health Environmental Scientist Randy Kowalski said that “urban storm water runoff is typically not treated before it is discharged to a river or other water body.”
The Department of Health and Dickinson officials did not know specific amounts of material released.
“I have never been concerned because it is such a small amount,” Krank said.
However, there may still be unease.
“The buildup of material on the streets that occurs over the winter is a water quality concern, as well as materials that may be deposited on the streets and washed into the storm sewer system during other parts of the year,” Kowalski said. “Cities are expected to minimize impacts through materials, as needed, to clean up residual materials once conditions allow in the spring.”
Prevention measures include street sweeping programs and location cleanup.
Dickinson City Engineer Shawn Soehren said road cleaning has already begun.
“When the snow melts we clean with the street sweepers, and we have started that process,” he said.
In addition to road cleaning, cities must adhere to preventative storm sewer regulations.
The Environmental Protection Agency implemented the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System storm water program, which requires cities to use a storm water management program. The proactive programs include public education and involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, runoff control and prevention for municipal operations.
The state issues permits in accordance with the EPA rules under the North Dakota Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The rules of the NDPDES program are enforced through required permit holder reports, department inspections and program audits, Kowalski said.
Dickinson has a regulation program, Soehren said.
“We have ordinances in place to address storm water,” he said. “We enforce regulations through permitting, making developers aware of storm water runoff and educating people about storm water.”
An annual report is given from the city to the state regarding education programs.
Testing for pollutants in the waterways is not done on a regular basis, Soehren said.
“For a concern you would need a spill or someone dumping,” he said. “Something big.”