Storm Water Education

The City of Canton is required under Phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program to provide public education about the impacts of storm water discharges on water bodies and the steps that can be taken to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff. 

Storm Water Runoff Problems

When it rains or when the snow melts, some of the water soaks into the ground while some of it "runs off", heading downhill. Whenever there is development, more storm water runs off because there is more impervious cover like rooftops, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, and streets, and less pervious ground for it to soak into. Left unmanaged, the additional "quantity" of storm water runoff can lead to flooding problems and other drainage issues. Also, as it flows across the ground, it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and carries them straight into nearby storm sewers, creeks, lakes, and other water bodies where it degrades aquatic life and pollutes the environment. Thus, the "quality" of storm water runoff can also be a problem.

Only around 1% of our water is usable drinking water. We cannot afford to pollute and contaminate it! Since we all live in a watershed and runoff occurs from our properties regardless of whether we live high on a hill or near a creek, storm water pollution prevention is something that we all must take part in to protect our environment and reduce the impacts of storm water pollution. 

Storm Sewers Vs. Sanitary Sewers

Unlike some larger cities, the City of Canton does not have "combined" sewers. That is, Canton’s storm sewers and sanitary sewers are "separate" from each other. One carries storm water; the other carries sanitary wastewater.

Canton’s storm sewers are meant to carry "clean" and unpolluted storm water runoff only. They are typically designed to flow by gravity and discharge directly to streams, lakes, and other water bodies without any kind of treatment being provided to clean the water they carry. This is why it is important to be proactive and make sure litter and other non-storm water discharges don’t make their way into storm sewers and other storm water drainage systems, thus negatively affecting the quality of receiving water bodies. Storm sewers are located wherever there are catch basins or storm water inlets which are structures often found along the road or in parking lots used to collect storm water runoff through a steel grate at the ground surface.

Sanitary sewers, on the other hand, are meant to carry "dirty" wastewater and other non-storm water discharges from toilets, sinks, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, and other similar sources. They transport the dirty wastewater to treatment plants where the flows they carry are treated and pollutants are removed before the remaining clean water is released into the environment. Sanitary sewers do not have catch basins or storm water inlets. They are meant to be "closed off" and "separated" from storm water.

Erosion & Sedimentation

Storm water runoff causes erosion of waterways such as creeks and ditches, resulting in sedimentation (the deposition of eroded sediment) into waterways, water bodies such as lakes and ponds, and storm sewer systems. Sedimentation of our streams and lakes destroys aquatic life and is considered a storm water pollutant. Erosion can be reduced by slowing down storm water runoff. The slower the rate of runoff, the less erosion and sedimentation that will occur. 

Land Disturbances

Construction activities typically result in land disturbance and the exposure of bare soil. When it rains, the bare soil is prone to erosion which leads to unwanted sedimentiation elsewhere. Properly installed silt fence, mulch, grass, and other types of "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) help to reduce the impact of storm water runoff, erosion, and sedimentation.  Whenever there is land disturbance of one or more acres, a site plan must be submitted to the City of Canton Zoning Inspector. Both the Civil Division of the Engineering Department and the Stark Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) will review the site plan to make sure storm water quantity and quality is properly managed, respectively. In addition, an Ohio EPA NPDES Construction Storm Water Permit will be required. See the City’s Storm Water Management Manual for further information.

Hazards Associated With Improper Waste Disposal

It may be tempting to get rid of unwanted wastes such as used oil or paint or any other waste by dumping them into a storm drainage system. But the improper disposal of waste can be hazardous to the environment and pollute our local water bodies. Never dump waste, oils, or other unwanted materials into a catch basin or stormwater inlet. It does not connect to the sanitary sewer and get treated! It only gets transported through the storm sewer directly to the fish waiting in the creek at the outlet of the sewer, causing pollution and degradation to aquatic life. That is why many storm drain inlets contain a "Do not dump - drains to stream!" message.

Such wastes that enter a City storm drainage system are considered "illicit discharges", are illegal, and are subject to enforcement actions that may consist of administrative penalties or orders, civil penalties, assessments, or other legal actions. If you’re unsure how to properly dispose of waste, please call the Sanitation Department at 330-489-3020 for more information.

Don’t Be A Litter Butt! (PDF)

A Day In The Water (PDF)

Green Infrastructure

A set of techniques collectively referred to as "green infrastructure" attempts to utilize, enhance, and/or mimic the natural processes of infiltration, evapotranspiration (the process of transferring moisture from the Earth to the atmosphere through the evaporation of water from rivers, lakes, oceans and plants), while re-using as much water as possible to prevent runoff.

Salt Usage & Storage

Unfortunately, the climate we live in forces us to use de-icing agents in the winter such as salt to put on our roads, driveways, and sidewalks for safe travel. Once that salt melts snow and ice, it mixes with the resulting water and makes its way downhill to pollute our streams and other water bodies. 

Only the minimum amounts of salt necessary should be used. Storing de-icing salt outside and unprotected causes problems too. It absorbs moisture which causes the salt to lump. The lumps freeze in the winter and make the salt difficult to use in salt spreaders. Salt that is stored outside should be kept under roof (or at least under a tarp) and away from the path of stormwater runoff and melting snow and ice.

Use The Right S.A.L.T. (PDF)


Spills can pollute and harm the environment. If not properly cleaned up, these materials may wind up in storm sewers which ultimately discharge directly to streams, lakes, and other water bodies.  Material spills that can harm the environment are:

  • Detergents
  • Fertilizers
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Pesticides
  • Other household products

Always read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and warnings before using any products. Know where spills are likely to occur, such as in garages where fuel may be stored. Keep absorbent materials on hand to absorb spills and contain the spill. Quickly block any nearby storm drains to prevent spills from entering. Notify proper authorities such as the Fire Department of any hazardous spills.

Don’t Be A Drip! (PDF)