Wastewater vs. Stormwater
Understanding your Stormwater and Wastewater Systems
You’ve seen one drain, you’ve seen them all. They are all the same, right? I can pour this cleaner down the drain because it goes to a wastewater treatment plant, right? Not so! It's important to understand the difference between the Stormwater System and Wastewater System so we can prevent environmental damage.
The wastewater system is a system of underground pipes that carries sewage from bathrooms, sinks, kitchens, and other plumbing components to one of the two wastewater treatment plants located in Mount Pleasant, where it is treated and discharged into the Charleston Harbor.
The stormwater system is a system designed to carry rainfall runoff and other drainage. It is not designed to carry sewage or accept hazardous wastes. Stormwater is the rainfall that is not absorbed by the ground. Stormwater that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff, which either flows directly into surface waterways or is channeled into storm drains, which eventually discharge to surface waters. It does not flow to a wastewater treatment plant.
Disposal of chemicals or hazardous substances to the stormwater system damages the environment. Motor oil, cleaners, paints and other common household items that get into
stormwater drains can poison fish, birds, and other wildlife, and can find their way into drinking water supplies. In addition, grass clippings, leaves, litter, and organic matter can clog stormwater drains and cause flooding.
In Mount Pleasant, not only is it important to understand the difference between your wastewater and stormwater system you should also know who is responsible for the operations and maintenance of these systems.
The Town of Mount Pleasant operates and maintains the Town’s Stormwater System. In 1996, under the guidelines of the South Carolina Stormwater and Sediment Reduction Act of 1991, Town Council, voted to adopt and implement a stormwater management program to address flooding, drainage system maintenance, and small capital improvement projects. The Stormwater Utility was created to provide dedicated funding for these critical operations. The Town of Mount Pleasant collects annual stormwater fees which are used to fund general maintenance operations and small capital improvements projects.
Mount Pleasant Waterworks is responsible for the operations and maintenance of your wastewater system. Your wastewater is collected through the wastewater main and delivered to one of the two wastewater treatment plants located in Mount Pleasant. At the Wastewater Treatment Plant your wastewater is treated and then discharged into the Charleston Harbor. Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ customers
Understanding the operations, maintenance, and responsibility of your wastewater and stormwater systems is half the battle. We need your help with maintaining your wastewater and stormwater systems and keeping the environment clean.
Here are some things you can do to help maintain your stormwater system:
• Do not pour anything into stormwater drains.
• Keep stormwater drains clear of leaves, grass clippings, sticks and litter.
• Repair any leaks and drips from your vehicle.
• Collect and recycle motor oil.
• Clean up spills and don’t wash them into a drain.
• Don’t pour paints, solvents, cleaners, etc. into any drain – take it to your local
county household hazardous waste collection.
• Minimize the use of herbicides and pesticides.
Here are some things you can do to help maintain your wastewater system, never put these items down your drain or in your toilet:
• Fats, oils or grease
• Coffee grinds
• Egg shells
• Produce stickers
• Chunks of garbage
• Feminine hygiene products
• Paper towels
• Flushable products
• Motor oil, transmission fluids, anti-freeze or other toxic chemicals
• Prescription and over-the-counter medications
Having a clean environment is of primary importance for our health and economy. Clean
waterways provide recreation, commercial opportunities, fish habitat, and add beauty to
our landscape. All of us benefit from clean water - and all of us have a role in getting and
keeping our waterways, wetlands, and groundwater clean. Do your part in helping protect our environment.