About our program
The City of Waco received its first Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit in 2000 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. We are currently entering our 3rd permit term under the National and Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems. MS4 Permit issued October 2016.
What we do
Our program oversees Waco’s Storm Water Management Plan. Multiple departments within the City are instrumental in implementing this plan. The City maintains the storm drainage system, inspects industrial facilities and construction sites, performs stormwater sampling, system monitoring, assist in investigations of suspicious discharges/illegal dumping and participates in public outreach and education.
What is stormwater, and where does it go?
Stormwater is runoff. When it rains, snows, sleets, or hails that precipitation comes into contact with many types of surfaces in the city: buildings, parking lots, streets, houses, yards, cars… and the list goes on! Ideally rain water would be absorbed into the ground, however in urbanized areas like Waco there is a lot of impervious surface that prevents absorption. When the rain water can’t be absorbed it becomes runoff. Without our storm drainage system that runoff would cause a lot of flooding.
Our MS4 is comprised of storm drains, ditches, lined and unlined channels, creeks, and streams. Stormwater in the City of Waco drains into these conveyances and flows to Lake Waco, the North Bosque River, and the Brazos River.
Why does it matter?
Rain washes over everything– including pollutants. Common stormwater pollutants include:
- Motor oils and other automotive fluids
- Soaps and detergents
- Fertilizers, pesticides, and other yard chemicals
- Pet waste
- Soils and sediment
- Yard debris (grass clippings, leaves, etc.)
Once these pollutants get into the storm drain system, they go straight to our local waterways without any treatment and can cause many negative impacts. Some of the harmful chemicals like motor oils, soaps, and pesticides are toxic not only to wildlife but also for our drinking water supply. Fertilizers can support harmful algae blooms. Decaying yard waste and pet waste can deplete the water of oxygen and kill fish. Pet waste also leads to increased bacterial contamination that can make water unsafe for swimming and other recreational activities.
Want to get involved? Here's how:
- Check with your local neighborhood or homeowner’s association to see when a neighborhood clean up event will be held in your area. If they don’t already have one, think about starting one! Every Neighborhood Association has access to three cleanup events per year at no charge. These events are usually held in conjunction with Baylor University’s Steppin’ Out program. Even something as simple as picking up the loose trash on your street makes a big impact and is a great way to get involved with your community.
- Keep Waco Beautiful hosts several programs throughout the year including the Brazos River Cleanup, Lake Waco Cleanup, and Neighborhood Cleanups. They also sponsor educational programs at local schools and a campus award program if you want to get your students involved in cleaning up their campus. Participate in the Adopt-A-Spot program if there is a special area near your home or business that you would like to commit to clean up. Contact Keep Waco Beautiful at (254) 299-2611 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call the City hotline to report stormwater or environmental concerns at (254) 299-CITY (254-299-2489).
- Check with the Texas Department of Transportation to see if there are any Adopt-a-Highway spots available in your area.
- Interested in getting involved to protect our local streams, rivers, and lakes? Joining our local Texas Stream Team chapter allows you the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience while helping us monitor our waterways on a monthly basis. In addition to our region, basic water quality data is collected at sites across Texas and contributes to an overall picture of our state’s water quality. For more information, visit the Stream Team website or contact Nora Schell for more information on the next Waco training.
- Participate in our Stormwater Volunteer Study! CoCoRaHS is the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network– a grassroots volunteer organization that measures precipitation rates across the country. Volunteers measure and report daily precipitation amounts in their own backyards, providing a more accurate understanding of just how differently rainfall occurs, even across our city! Visit the CoCoRaHS website or contact Anthony at (254) 750-8006.
- Volunteer with clean-up, plant harvesting, and other events at our local Lake Waco Wetlands.
- Check out our pollution prevention tips page for more ideas on how you can prevent stormwater pollution at home.
- Do you have an idea for a volunteer project? Are you already doing a project you want us to know about? Contact us and let us know!
Contact our department by email or by phone at (254) 750-8006 for any stormwater questions, concerns, or to submit construction or industrial stormwater documents.
You can also call the City hotline to report stormwater or environmental concerns at (254) 299-CITY (254-299-2489).
Please call (254) 299-2496 to report illegal dumping of trash.