Water Resources Program  |  REPORT A PROBLEM

On February 14, 2007, the Board of Supervisors passed an amendment to the Water Protection Ordinance that prohibits the discharging or dumping of non-stormwater pollutants into the storm drainage system or natural streams.  This amendment is part of a comprehensive effort to keep the area's streams healthy.  Non-stormwater pollutants can be a major source of pollutants in streams; examples include:

  • pet wastes
  • cleaning chemicals
  • food scraps or used cooking oil
  • trash and debris
  • vehicle fluids
  • Many people don't realize that storm drains and pipes are often directly connected to streams - and do not pass through a water treatment plant.

For more information about the illicit discharge ordinance, see the executive summary and adopted text amendments.

Note that some natural phenomenon or conditions can cause streams to sometimes look polluted:

  • foam - Natural organic compounds in water may cause foam by reducingiron floc bacteria surface tension. Natural foam would smell earthy and break down quickly whereas foam caused by detergents would have a perfumy smell and would feel slippery between your fingers.
  • orange color - The presence of iron floc bacteria may create what looks like a toxic spill (see photo on right). However, this is simply the result of an abundance of a bacterium that metabolizes iron leaching from the ground. This often - but not necessarily - occurs in the vicinity of recent ground disturbance, such as a construction site.
  • oily sheen - The iron floc bacteria may also produce a sheen on the water surface that reflects a rainbow of colors like an oil/gas sheen. To "test the waters", break up the sheen with a stick or twig; the bacteria sheen will stay broken up in fragments while an oil sheen will return to a continuous film.
  • muddiness - Some degree of muddiness is expected during and after storm events due to erosion of the land surface and within channels.  However, extreme cloudiness or color could indicate failed erosion and sedimentation control practices upstream and should be reported.

If you believe that a person or company is illegally dumping a pollutant into a storm drain system or stream channel, please go to the website of the Rivanna Regional Stormwater Education Partnership and click on "Report Water Pollution" in the left navigation bar or call 975-0224.If you've observed a stream or other waterbody that has a unusual odor or appearance or if you have some other reason to believe that something is amiss, please contact the appropriate County staff.

If you have a drainage problem on your property and you believe the County might be responsible, please contact us via drainagecomplaint@albemarle.org.


restaurant cooking oil stain at storm drain