Richland Soil and Water

Stormwater Non Point Discharge System (NPDES) in Richland County

In addition to requirements Richland County landowners follow for earthmoving activities through the Richland County Stormwater and Erosion Control Program, communities that have 1000 or more people per square mile must follow the Stormwater Non Point Discharge System (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) (NPDES) General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) to further effectively manage water pollution. The Richland County Commissioners are mandated by Ohio EPA to create and manage this added accountability for stormwater runoff. The NPDES (MS4) communities in Richland County are:  City of Mansfield, City of Ontario, Village of Lexington, Madison Township, Mifflin Township, Springfield Township and Washington Township.

NPDES/MS4 Areas Map

Stormwater runoff is generated when rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated. The primary method to control stormwater discharges is the use of best management practices (BMPs). In addition, most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage under an NPDES/MS4 permit. 

Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities. Authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program for MS4 controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES/MS4 permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. In most cases, the NPDES/MS4 permit program is administered Ohio EPA. Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our Nation's water quality. These regulations require designated communities to develop and implement a storm water management plan. This is accomplished by implementing six minimum control measures. 

  1. Public Education — BMPs for MS4s to inform individuals and households about ways to reduce stormwater pollution.
  2. Public Involvement — BMPs for MS4s to involve the public in the development, implementation, and review of an MS4's stormwater management program.
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination — BMPs for identifying and eliminating illicit discharges and spills to storm drain systems. Learn more about how to test for an IDDE.
  4. Construction — BMPs for MS4s and construction site operators to address stormwater runoff from active construction sites.
  5. Post-construction — BMPs for MS4s, developers, and property owners to address stormwater runoff after construction activities have completed. 
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping — BMPs for MS4s to address stormwater runoff from their own facilities and activities. 

In general terms if there is land disturbance within our NPDES/MS4 communities, the owner must come into our office with approved engineered plans illustrating how this change to the land will not violate federal laws. Our office can provide detailed steps of how a land use change can while still being in compliance and how to work with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) directly.

Richland Soil and Water Conservation District assists communities with a variety of public education, outreach, involvement and participation programs to help meet the requirements of the local MS4 management plan. These programs include electronic newsletters, social media platforms, website updates and workshops.

2021 Stormwater Theme: Only Rain Down the Drain

In 2021, the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District aims to promote watershed awareness and protection strategies which will increase the public’s knowledge of the impacts of pollution that does not come from a specific location. "Only Rain Down the Drain" is an educational campaign geared toward the general public and homeowners with a message that connects the important role of keeping stormwater drains clean. There are many reasons why we want to keep our streams clean in Richland County, not only does it look aesthetically pleasing, but we rely on this water for everything we do. Taking a shower, washing the dishes, and getting a fresh drink of water all counts on everyone working together to keep our streams clean. Richland County has many watersheds. All of the water that goes down our storm drains or into ditches eventually leads from one of our watersheds in Richland County to inland bodies of water like Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Lake Erie and the other 4 great lakes are very important, not only to Ohio but to the rest of the world because they hold more than 20% of the world’s freshwater. When we let pollutants go down the storm drains, we can alter ecosystems and be part of what helps to create the harmful algal blooms happening on our great lakes and streams. The most common pollutants are fertilizers for your lawn, natural substances like leaves, and pet waste. The fertilizers can contain high amounts of chemicals like phosphorus that helps harmful algal blooms grow and cause dead zones; places where animals and organisms cannot live. Natural substances can cause blockages that can lead to damage to stormwater systems which in turn can cost taxpayers money.

There are many things that we can do to help our stormwater systems run as smooth as possible. Here at Richland SWCD, we offer soil tests that can help you fertilize your lawn properly and save you money on expensive chemicals your lawn does not need. You can also water your lawn or garden with free water stored in a rain barrel which can also be purchased from us. For leaves, pet waste and even kitchen scraps you can compost these things in your backyard and have free fertilizer that make your plants and soil healthier. For bare spots around your yard, it is best to plant something there, for example grass or a non-invasive species of plant or, perhaps we could help you build a rain garden. The last and easiest thing you can do is regular inspections on your septic systems and to check pipes coming off of any buildings on your property to make sure that everything is running properly and not backing up. You can also check stormwater catch basins on your property and make sure that only rain is going down the drain!

How Can You Help Keep Only Rain Down the Drain?

Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces:

  1. When the pavement is hot this will help to decrease the water temperature. The decreased water temperature will be better for the fish, wildlife and other organisms that live in our waterways. Cooler water also has more oxygen in it.
  2. Auto chemicals that are sitting on your driveway, roads or sidewalk can find its way to our local waterways and be potentially fatal to fish and wildlife.
  3. Road salt that is applied during the winter months can increase the salinity of freshwater streams. Once this salt is on your vehicle you should take it to a carwash where the wastewater is treated rather than going directly into a storm drain.
  4. Downspouts without a proper outlet like a splash blocks or rip rap could cause major erosion concerns.
  5. Chloride can contaminate drinking water in which there is no treatment for this chemical.
  6. Check cars for leaks and recycle motor oil 

If you are on a septic system, have it inspected and pumped regularly:

  1. If your system is not working properly, they can “overflow” or “leak” effluent into our natural waterways without even seeing it.
  2. Effluent can contain e-coli and high levels of nitrates, which can be passed into our drinking water and potentially cause outbreaks and cause algal blooms in local ponds and lakes causing fish kills.
  3. Untreated wastewater can also contain fungi that can cause skin eye and respiratory infections.
  4. If your septic system is not maintained as it is recommended by the manufacturer, you could be causing long term damage to your septic system that may end up costing more to replace than it would have if it were maintained properly.
  5. Untreated wastewater is a major health concern and can cause many human diseases.
  6. There may be as many as 100 types of different viruses in raw effluent, but they are difficult to identify. (source:

 Keep storm drains clean:

  1. Never dump anything down a storm drain or into a ditch.
  2. Debris and pollutants can damage storm drains, back up natural waters and be very costly for repairs or clean-up.
  3. It can cause flooding and back-ups.
  4. Natural materials like grass and leaves should never be swept or dumped into a storm drain or storm ditch. They produce extra nutrients as they break down that pollute our waterways.
  5. Remove pesticides and lawn fertilizer from hard surfaces with a broom or other dry method so they do not get washed into our storm drains.
  6. Was your vehicles on your lawn, this will allow the dirt and soap a chance to soak into your lawn before getting washed down a storm drain. The surfactants that are in car wash soap can cause harm to aquatic life, polluting the water and endangering human health.
  7. Make sure you take petroleum based products like used motor oil, antifreeze and other vehicle fluids to be properly disposed of at a waste facility made for those types of wastes. Make sure you take pool chemicals, herbicides, paints and medications to the proper facilities to be disposed of properly. All of these can cause major damage to our environment if not disposed of properly.

Only Rain Down the Drain Introduction Video

Only Rain Down the Drain Demonstration Video

Learn about the Water Cycle Runoff and more in this interactive video from The Eastern Washington Stormwater Outreach project 

Learn about Rain Barrels

Learn about Impervious Areas

Stormwater Themes