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Even though summer time is supposed to be our dry months, it has actually been drier these past couple of months. We need to keep some things in mind regarding storm water because eventually, the rains will return.

Fort Sill actually has two storm water permits that we maintain and, legally, we need to comply with some parameters.

There are actually two sewer systems here on Fort Sill. The sanitary sewer system, which takes used potable water away from buildings and then there is the storm sewer system, which takes rain water away from the streets, buildings and other areas so that it doesn’t flood. There is one contractor on Fort Sill that service/repair the sanitary sewer system and another contractor has the responsibility of keeping the storm sewer system operational. DPW keeps a detailed map and location of all the piping and water conveyances on Fort Sill. Older storm water sewer inlets that have either collapsed, or in need of repair, are identified through inspections, and then program money for those projects so that those issues can be resolved. Since Fort Sill has been around for such a long time, many older infrastructures need to be repaired or replaced. It’s not done overnight, but eventually, things will get completed.

In both urbanized and industrial areas throughout Fort Sill, much of the land surface in the cantonment area is covered by buildings and pavement, which do not allow rain and snowmelt to soak into the ground. Instead, most developed areas rely on storm drains to carry large amounts of runoff from roofs and paved areas to nearby waterways. Storm sewer systems concentrate runoff into smooth, straight conduits. This runoff gathers speed and erosional power as it travels either above or below ground. When this runoff leaves the storm drains and empties into a stream, its excessive volume and power blast out streambanks, damaging streamside vegetation and wiping out aquatic habitat. There are projects going on right now to fix some of these damaged areas and design ways to slow fast moving water bodies down through engineering practices. Increased storm flows can carry sediment loads from construction sites and other denuded surfaces and eroded streambanks.

Fort Sill requires that the Environmental Quality Division (EQD) reviews every construction project so that we may address storm water issues and requirements. Any construction projects over one acre in total size, is required to obtain an actual storm water construction permit through the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) and cannot terminate that permit until it has met certain requirements. Once the project is completed, inspected and approved by EQD, an ODEQ regulator physically comes to the site to give final approval.

As storm water flows over any area, it can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants. Anything that enters the storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the water bodies that are used for swimming, fishing and sometimes, drinking water. Polluted runoff is the nation’s greatest threat to clean water quality.

By practicing healthy habits, common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, yard clippings and automotive fluids should be kept off the ground and out of storm water. Below is a list of a few healthy habits that can help lower the amount of pollutants entering the storm sewer system.

Vehicles and Garages:

Use the AAFES car wash instead of washing the car in the housing areas. The AAFES car wash facilities drain their water directly into the sanitary sewer system and not into the storm water system. Check your car and other machinery for leaks and spills. Make repairs as soon as possible and clean up spilled fluids with an absorbent material like kitty litter or sand. Do not rinse the spills into the storm drain. Even rinsing off the sidewalk or drive way will result in the water eventually finding its way into the storm water system. Remember, one drop of oil can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Vehicle fluids are the number one surface water quality problems nationwide.

Lawn and Garden

Sweep up yard debris rather than rinsing them off the sidewalk or drive way. Too many leaves and yard clippings can take oxygen out of water and suffocate the plants and fish that need oxygen to breath.

Use mulch for landscaping projects to prevent pollutants from blowing or washing off the yard and into the storm drain system.

Vegetate bare spots to prevent soil erosion.

General

Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled and recyclable products whenever possible.

Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible. Clean up spills immediately. If you are PCS’ing, you can drop off these products to Building. 2515, Environmental Quality Division and it won’t cost you a dime.

Remember to pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly. Pet waste is not a fertilizer.

Pick up street litter and loose trash so that it won’t blow into storm drain inlets. Keep trash bins covered at all times as the Oklahoma winds can easily blow the trash out of the bins.

Should you require guidance, please call the Environmental Quality Division office at 442-3266.