How Can YOU Prevent Stormwater Pollution?

Rain Barrel and Compost Bin Sale  

Erie County and the Western NY Stormwater Coalition, are once again selling rain barrels and compost bins.  
Prices are as follows: 

rain barrel image SYSTERNTM Rain Barrel 55 gallon capacity. $58.49 each (tax included)

composter image Earth MachineTM Compost Bin 80 gallon capacity. $41.08 each (tax included) 

Kitchen container image Kitchen Compost Container $5.74 each (tax included)
Turner image   Compost Turner Tool $16.03 each (tax included)                 

Click Here to purchase the products listed above.
Orders must be placed by May 20, 2016.
Estimated date for scheduled pick up:  June 15, 2016

Please note: there will be two locations for pick up: one in Tonawanda, one in Orchard Park. You will select your preference at the time of your order. We will contact you via e-mail in June to provide directions and specific dates and times for pick up.

There are several environmental benefits associated with rain barrels. Foremost, rain barrels reduce stormwater runoff, this is water that does not soak in to the ground and can transport many pollutants to our local waterways. By using collected rainwater for watering lawns, gardens, potted plants and for washing off patio furniture and tools, rain barrels conserve water. From a gardening perspective, the natural nutrients in rain water make it far better than tap water, which has chlorine and fluoride in it. With a rain barrel, gardeners can minimize or eliminate their use of chemical fertilizers. Composting yard trimmings and food scraps, is a simple way to recycle nutrients and return them to the soil. The addition of compost enriches soil and will stimulate plant growth, thereby reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Composting has the added benefit of reducing the amount of solid waste that would otherwise go to a landfill. 

Please contact Erie County DEP at 716-858-6370 if you have any questions.


Western New York Stormwater Coalition logo


What is stormwater?

Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas, bare soil, and sloped lawns. As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports animal waste, litter, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, oil & grease, soil and other potential pollutants.

What's the problem?Stormwater Illustration

Rain and snowmelt wash pollutants from streets, construction sites, and land into storm sewers and ditches. Eventually, these empty the polluted stormwater directly into streams and rivers with no treatment. This is known as stormwater pollution.

Polluted stormwater degrades our lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waterways. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen can cause the overgrowth of algae resulting in oxygen depletion in waterways. Toxic substances from motor vehicles and careless application of pesticides and fertilizers threaten water quality and can kill fish and other aquatic life. Bacteria from animal wastes and improper connections to storm sewer systems can make lakes and waterways unsafe for wading, swimming and fish consumption. Eroded soil is a pollutant as well. It clouds the waterway and interferes with the habitat of fish and plant life.

A sanitary sewer system and a storm sewer system are not the same. Water that goes down a sink or other inside drain flows to either a wastewater treatment plant or to a septic system for treatment. Storm sewer flows are not treated. Water that flows down driveways, streets, and outside areas into a storm sewer or ditch flows directly to nearby creeks, fish and wildlife habitats, downstream recreational areas, and drinking water supplies.

View "The Key to Clean Water" video

There are many types of pollutants that find their way into storm drains. Some common pollutants found in storm sewers and creeks include:

  • Animal waste
  • Litter
  • Motor oil
  • Yard clippings
  • Fertilizers and pesticides
  • Soapy car wash water
  • Eroded sediment from construction projects

It's important to remember that any type of surface water runoff, not just rainfall, can run into the storm sewer and collect in the stormwater management system. For example, when you wash your car on the driveway, that water, dirt, and grime ends up in the system. That's why we need to be careful with what we put into the storm sewers as traces of all this material can end up in the stormwater system and our local waterways.

What can YOU do to prevent stormwater pollution in Western New York?

Click on the images below for a PDF version of each brochure

Download Household Guide brochure

1. Remember: Only rain belongs in the drain! 
Don't dump anything down storm drains. Be sure to clear away leaves and debris.

2. Wash your car over your lawn or gravel. 
This allows the ground to neutralize the soap and grime from your car rather than sending it directly to our creeks and streams. Use biodegradable or non-toxic soap that is phosphate-free. You can also take your car to a commercial car wash where wastewater is either recycled or treated.

Download Rain Garden brochure

3. Keep your car well-maintained. 
ix any fluid leaks promptly and make sure to clean up any spills. If you perform your own automotive maintenance, automotive repair shops will accept 5 gallons of used motor oil per resident per day. For more information about the proper disposal of hazardous household chemicals, call (716) 858-6800 or visit the Erie County Waste Management and Recycling webpage.

4. Consider disconnecting your downspouts.→
You can plant a rain garden to absorb stormwater runoff. You can also use a rain barrel to help collect runoff from your roof and gutters to be used on your lawn and garden.

5. Use lawn or garden chemicals sparingly.
Choose organic alternatives when possible and check the weather forecast to avoid applying them before a storm.

Download Pet Waste bookmark

6. Mow your lawn less often.
Try to keep your lawn at least 3" in height to minimize weed growth, reduce the need for watering, and decrease the likelihood of pests. Leaving the clippings on the lawn can also help block weeds and retain moisture. Sweep your sidewalks and driveway rather than hosing them down.

7. Plant native, low maintenance plants and grasses. 
They often have longer root systems, which reduce the amount of chemicals and water needed. Try seeding your lawn with Buffalo Grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) or Northern Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). For native plant listings, try or

8. Minimize runoff by not over-watering your lawn and garden.
Keep sprinklers on a timer to avoid pooling water.
Download IDDE brochure

9. ←Clean up pet waste. 
Bag up pet waste and dispose of it in the trash to prevent harmful bacteria from washing into local waterways.

10. Be sure to minimize the amount of ice-melt used.
Do not over-apply salt. Choose a more environmentally-friendly alternative when possible.

11. Consider minimizing impervious surfaces around your home.
Use bricks, gravel, cobbles, natural stone, or permeable pavers instead of asphalt or concrete when possible.

12. Make sure storm drain outfalls are not running in dry weather.→
A storm sewer system is designed to carry stormwater. If it hasn't rained in
72 hours, it should not be flowing. Call your municipal stormwater contact if it does.

13. Do not drain your pool, spa, or fountain to a storm drain. 
Allow chlorine to dissipate for several days. Test the water to ensure the residual chlorine is zero before slowly draining to a landscaped area. You may be able to drain to a sanitary sewer. Contact your local municipality for more information.Download Septic System brochure

14. ←Keep your septic system well-maintained to prevent leaks.
A leaking septic system can leach harmful bacteria into storm sewer systems and local waterways. It is important to keep your system well-maintained to prevent costly repairs as well. 

15. Walk, bike, or share a ride when possible.Stormwater Pond Guide brochure
Driving causes particulates to enter our air. This air pollution can contaminate our rain and end up in our streams and lakes.

16. Properly maintain your neighborhood stormwater pond.→
It is designed to capture and treat stormwater runoff.  Answers to
many commonly asked questions can be found in this brochure.

17. Install a rain barrel or cistern to capture roof runoff.
This helps prevent stormwater from reaching waterways and reduces the potential for pollution. Find out more about our Rain Barrel Painting Contest for middle and high schools!

For more information, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's Stormwater Program webpage or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation stormwater webpage.

Did you hear our radio spots?

If you don't want it in your water, don't pass it by! For more information about preventing pet waste and litter from reaching our waterways, check out our Pet Waste webpage or our Clean Streets webpage

WNYSC: Storm Sewer Mapping Project

Teams are utilizing mobile units to map stormwater infrastructure in municipalities throughout Erie and Niagara Counties. This will assist your city, town or village with maintaining their storm sewer systems.  For more information, check out the  Storm Sewer Mapping Project Flyer.

WNYSC: 2012 Billboard Campaign

Click on the images below for more information on each:

Car wash billboard

Dog poop billboard

Fertilizer Billboard

Clean Streets Billboard