"Storm water" is surface runoff generated from rain and melting snow that flows over land instead of infiltrating into the ground. It is most readily observed as the by-product of urban growth where vast amounts of impervious land cover exists (i.e. paved streets, parking lots, driveways, building rooftops, etc.). The Fairbanks area has a storm drain system that conveys this surface water runoff away from public street rights-of-way and commercial and residential properties to nearby water bodies. The system is comprised of thousands of culverts and storm drain inlets, hundreds of miles of ditches and buried storm drain pipe, and hundreds of outfalls that serve as discharge points to nearby water bodies.
As runoff travels over developed land surfaces, it
accumulates a variety of pollutants (such as those shown in the figure
below) that are transported by the storm drain system to local water
bodies without treatment.
The results can significantly alter our natural environment by
contaminating drinking water supplies, making recreational areas unsafe
and unpleasant, harming fish and wildlife populations, and impairing
At the outfall, the pollutants collected in storm water can be readily
seen discharging to local water bodies.