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Illicit Discharges

Illicit or illegal discharges are indicated by measurable amounts of pathogens and/or pollutants in a fluid in storm drains during dry periods, or flows across the ground into surface water. Each discharge has a unique source and possible frequency. These discharges may be from direct illegal connections from sewage systems, overflow from on-site sewage, illegal connections from car washes, restaurants, gas stations, other businesses, factories, homes, and apartments, or due to spills or overflows of contaminants which penetrate the ground or run into surface water. They also come from the leachate from landfills, both active and closed.

Best Practices for Illicit Discharges (See endnote 8)

Illicit or illegal discharges can be reduced substantially if the community becomes involved in an illicit discharge detection and elimination program as recommended by the US EPA. The four major steps of the program are also the Best Practices. They are:

  • 1. Determine the existing resources, programs, staff, and legal authority, and their effectiveness, which are available to resolve the problems. Determine the gaps, financially, technically, legislatively, and people-wise and make provisions for correcting these.
  • 2. Determine who will be responsible for administering programs, has legal authority, and how discharges will be tracked and eliminated.
  • 3. Complete a comprehensive study of all potential sources of pollutants in the watershed area and establish priorities for first removing the worst ones that can be done rapidly, the lesser ones that can be removed rapidly, the worst ones that may take extended time, and then the lesser ones that may take extended time.
  • 4. Develop measurable program goals and means of implementation, and provide for redirection of the program as needed.

Also, develop a comprehensive educational program for the public and an approach to working with the many citizens’ groups and others who are interested in better water quality in the community.

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