Newcastle Knows Clean Water | What is Stormwater?
Posted on 06/28/2018

Newcastle Knows Clean Water is a new series brought to you by city Surface Water Specialist Kim Jones. Look for regular updates that give citizens an inside look at the city's Surface Water Management Division and how it impacts you!

Stormwater is water from rain or snowmelt that flows through our community. With the development of modern cities like Newcastle and the addition of impervious surfaces like roads, parking lots, homes, and buildings, we have changed the way stormwater flows. Stormwater cannot just percolate into the ground like it used to. Now, stormwater flows into complex engineered stormwater management systems which protect property, our creeks and lakes, and prevent flooding. The city’s stormwater management system is maintained by the Surface Water Management (or SWM) Division within the city’s Public Works Department.

Impervious surfaces like roads and parking lots are designed with storm drains and underground conveyance systems (mostly pipes) to allow stormwater to drain away. Often storm drains flow to storage areas such as underground tanks, called vaults, or aboveground ponds where stormwater slows down allowing sediment pollution to settle out. Storage areas discharge to nearby surface waters like China Creek, Lake Boren and Gypsy Creek. Slowing the flow of stormwater provides some water treatment and prevents it from scouring out our creeks and destroying stream habitat. Sometimes, storm drains flow directly to our surface waters without any treatment. Always remember, “Only Rain Down the Drain!” The best way to keep our surface waters clean and healthy for our kids to play in and wildlife to live in is by preventing it from becoming polluted.

Most of Newcastle’s stormwater system is out of sight. It may be underground or it may just look like a natural area. Regardless, it plays an essential role in keeping our community safe and clean. Check back next week to learn more about the services your Surface Water Management Division provides.

Questions about Newcastle Knows Clean Water? Contact kimj@newcastlewa.gov.

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