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Stormwater is rainwater that washes through our property and streets, taking with it any debris that may be in its path.  This mixture of rain, debris, oil and waste is known as "runoff".  In the past municipalities, as well as other public and private agencies, worked to get stormwater off the roads as quickly as possible to avoid flooding.  Today these same agencies are working to not only reduce and often eliminate flooding, but to prevent pollution by the elements picked up by runoff.

When you pass a storm inlet, do you know where the water goes?  Do you think it is channeled to a treatment plant the way sewage is?  Think again!  Up north, there may still be some existing combined sewer systems, where both sewage and stormwater are channeled to the local sewage treatment plant.  Here in Florida, we do not have combined systems.  In fact, in most areas of the Country inflow and infiltration (I/I) studies are done to find ground water and rainwater leaks in sanitary sewer systems and repair any damage.  Sewage treatment costs money, and treating large amounts of added stormwater would be very expensive.  South Florida is surrounded by water bodies such as the Intracoastal Waterway, finger canals, lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, and that is exactly where most stormwater runoff goes.

The next time you pass an inlet, remember that it most likely discharges into a body of water that may be near where you live, swim or fish!  Do not add to the pollution problem by pouring anything down the storm drain, and remember that the drain is for stormwater only!

Learn more about stormwater, and support your stormwater assessment program.  This program is working for all of us and will enable our future generations to enjoy cleaner water.  This webpage will help to explain more about NPDES, BMPs, assessments, construction, and what you can do to help.

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What is NPDES?

How It Began

Section 402(p) of the 1987 Federal Clean Water Act required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit program. This program requires local governments to obtain permits for their existing stormwater drainage systems, and for stormwater from certain industrial activities. This includes all construction projects that will disturb one or more acres of land, government owned landfills, power plants, airports, vehicle maintenance facilities and wastewater treatment plants. 

How This Effects the City of Delray Beach
The NPDES regulations are directed at local governments, which are liable, for the pollutants discharged from their stormwater systems into the waters of the United States. Delray Beach is one of 40 co-permittees in Palm Beach County responsible for developing a long term, comprehensive stormwater program to reduce the pollutant loading from their systems caused by non-point sources. Non-point sources are polluting sources other than direct discharges from factories and industries. Automotive oil and grease, herbicides and pesticides used in lawn maintenance, and runoff from City streets are a few examples of non-point sources of pollution.

The City has already developed an inventory of its stormwater management system. Currently infrastructure deficiencies are being identified and appropriate repairs completed.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)
The state Stormwater Rule, Chapter 17-25 Florida Administrative Code, was implemented by the Department of Environmental Regulation in 1982. The rule requires the use of BMPs to treat the first flush of stormwater to remove 80% of the annual average pollutant load. A good example of a BMP is the construction of swales.

S.O.S. - Save our swales!

Swales and Stormwater Runoff

In the past, the plan for rainwater was to get it off the streets and into nearby canals as quickly as possible. When it rains, the water runs off paved surfaces and takes with it the oils, greases, animal wastes and debris, and deposits it in our canals, rivers and lakes. Today we know that stormwater runoff is a primary source of water pollution. In fact, Federal and State legislation have been enacted requiring cities throughout the country to develop comprehensive stormwater management programs.

Swales are generally defined as the strip of land in front of your homes and adjacent to the street. Although you may never have stopped to think about it before, swales are important to the protection of our environment and the appearance of our neighborhoods. Swales are an important tool used to slow down the water runoff and allowing it to pool in the grassy areas. The water is then filtered by the grass and percolates into the ground recharging our water supply. Swales also help to reduce erosion and can be used in other sensitive areas of the yard or commercial property. 

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Landscaping behind the swale is beautiful and effective.

Working Together
The City realizes that you may need to make certain changes to your swale. We would like you to follow current City guidelines that will protect our environment and your neighborhood:

Paving: If you need to pave your swale for driveway access, pave only the section you need and leave the rest of the swale in its natural state. Remember that paving requires a City permit, since pavement is considered to be a permanent structure.

Plantings: Landscaping your front swale may be pleasing to the eye, but it does disrupt the natural drainage features of your neighborhood. Installing your plantings behind your property line, away from the road, adds beauty to your home and leaves the swale intact.

Parking: Avoid continual parking of vehicles on your swale to allow healthy grass to develop and keep the soil loose so water can percolate into the ground.

Driveways: Make sure your driveway's design allows water to drain toward your swale.
Debris: Keep your swale free of leaves, limbs, and other vegetation. Properly dispose of debris and oil rather than placing them in your swale.

Remember:

  • Runoff should temporarily pond in the swale for 24 to 36 hours; mosquitoes won't breed until water ponds for at least 72 hours.
  • Keep healthy, aerated grass growth.
  • Minimize the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
  • Do not pave the swales as this reduces percolation of runoff.
  • Do not park vehicles in the swale as this compacts the soil and reduces percolation. 

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Driveways should be designed to channel rainwater into swales.

Cleaner Water
By following these few simple steps, the City will be working towards cleaner water for all of us while recharging our system.

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Stormwater Assessments

Why Assessments?

The Federal government requires compliance with the NPDES stormwater permit program. This means funding for maintenance, repair and construction of stormwater systems. Previously, the financial source was the City's general fund, which meant the stormwater program would compete with more popular programs such as fire and police. Stormwater was a low priority, except when it rained!

Today, removing stormwater from our streets is only part of the issue. Stormwater is polluting the country's water bodies and the Federal government is requiring each local governing entity be involved with the cleanup. Non-ad valorem assessments allow separate funding dedicated to the stormwater program. An example is the City's swale construction project as it is an important means of not only removing storm runoff, but also allowing the runoff to filter through grass to recharge our water supply.

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Is It Fair?
All government entities do a great deal of research and communicate with each other in their goal to make assessments fair to all residents, and to comply with Federal and State laws. Stormwater assessments and utilities are relatively new and there have been many changes over the years for most municipalities. There may be more changes in the future in response to new and better technologies.

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How Does Delray Beach Calculate Assessments?
Almost all governments using assessments calculate by land areas and/or impervious areas and there is a set amount for an Equal Residential Unit (ERU). When the City's non-ad Valorem assessment was created in 1990, 2,502 square feet was considered the average size of a Single Family Residence (SFR) in the City. Currently, the amount for one ERU is $63.96 for 2,502 square feet. Delray Beach has five formulas for assessment calculations:

Single Family Residential 1 ERU = $63.96
Single Family Residential with common elements within the platted subdivision 1 ERU plus the pro-rated assessment amount of the platted subdivision common elements divided by the total number of parcels within the subdivision = $ Amount
Condominium Sq. Ft. impervious area divided by 2,502, multiplied by 1 ERU, divided by number of units = $ Amount
Developed non-residential, Multi-Family Dwelling Sq. Ft. impervious area divided by 2,502, multiplied by 1 ERU = $ Amount
Unimproved Land Total Acres multiplied by 1.2 ERUs ($76.75) = $ Amount







                                                                                                                                                                  Common elements within a platted subdivision will not be assessed to the subdivision 
associations.  However, the assessment amount of the common elements will be pro-rated among the parcels within the subdivision.

If the assessed property lies within the Lake Worth Drainage District, it receives a 25% discount. If the property has a privately maintained stormwater system, approved by the City Engineer, it receives a 25% discount. This means a property may receive up to a 50% discount off its annual assessment.

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When will I Receive My Assessment?
The Palm Beach County Property Appraiser will mail residents a notice of proposed property taxes in mid-August, called the TRIM (Truth In Millage) Notice. On November 1st, the County Tax Roll is open for collections. Non-ad valorem assessments are not based on millage and will appear on the bottom of the Notice of Ad valorem and Non-ad valorem Assessments.

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The Goal:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stormwater from urban runoff and storm sewers is the second leading source of water quality impairment for lakes and estuaries and the third for rivers. Dedicated funding, whether assessments or utilities, is extremely important to enable local governments to clean up our water supplies.

What you can do as a resident
In order for us to understand how we can help the environment, we must first understand what Pointless Personal Pollution is and how it effects us in our daily lives.

Pointless Personal Pollution
Stormwater pollution is categorized into two groups: point source and non-point source.  Point source pollution comes from industrial businesses and sewage treatment facilities, and is monitored by government permit.  Non-point source pollution is contributed by homes, businesses and farms.  Non-point source pollution is important to us since we are the cause, and we can stop it!  Pointless Personal Pollution is caused by many of our day-to-day activities, and is washed into the state's waters by irrigation and rain runoff.  Some examples of these pollutants are:

  • Soil erosion caused by a lack of ground cover.
  • Uncontrolled construction activities.
  • Automotive and lawn equipment oil leaks, degreasers, and improper disposal of used oils other products into storm drains.
  • Litter.
  • Yard trash, especially piled onto, or placed near a storm inlet.
  • Grass clippings blown into the street.
  • Garbage not cleaned up around dumpsters and garbage cans.
  • Pet and livestock wastes.
  • Sewer and septic overflows.

Pointless Personal Pollution Affect Us in Many Ways:
Nutrients from septic tanks, fertilizers and animal wastes cause excessive growth of algae and aquatic weeds.  Many of our boaters are dismayed at finding these weeds tangled in their propellers!  Sewage, litter and garbage reduce oxygen levels in the water, killing aquatic life.  Sediments from soil erosion clog fish gills and shellfish filtering systems, suffocating them.  Pesticides and heavy metals contaminate water body sediments and kill aquatic life.  Pathogens from animal waste and septic tanks contaminate shellfish and lead to the closing of swimming areas.  How do we go about improving our waters individually?

Easy, Important Ways to Help Us Reduce Pointless Personal Pollution:

  • We can start by shopping wisely.  Buy products that are labeled non-toxic, biodegradable, non-phosphorus, or water soluble.
  • Store products safely by keeping toxic products in their original containers and keep them in safe places that cannot be accessed by children or pets.
  • Properly maintain septic systems by annual inspections, pump out as needed and avoid disposing caustic cleaners, chemicals or solvents, as they destroy beneficial bacteria and clog absorption fields.
  • Do not place yard clippings, branches or other debris on top of the storm drain.  Grass clippings left on the grass make excellent mulch, while blowing clippings into the street add to pollution of the lakes and canals.
  • Service vehicles and lawn equipment regularly, and dispose of used oils and antifreeze at the local service station.
  • Find your roof drains and route the water away from your driveway towards a grassy part of your yard.
  • Fertilize with a low nitrogen mix, and don't apply it before the rains - most of it will runoff and the benefit to your lawn will be lost.  Spray pesticides infrequently, using an eco-friendly substitute.
  • Wash your car in the grass, not in your driveway. Soap will act as a safe pesticide for your lawn, but not safe for your canal or lake.
  • Never pour anything down an inlet, no matter how harmless it may seem to you. These systems are intended for rainwater only!

These simple steps will go a long way to help keep our canals, lakes and ground water clean.  For more information refer to the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods web site provided by the University of Florida Extension.

Citizen Reporting of Hazardous Spills and Illicit Dumping
Unfortunately, there are occasions where there are accidents with hazardous materials, or intentional dumping of toxic wastes.  Sometimes the incident may be as simple someone dumping an unknown (or known) waste product into an inlet.  All of these situations must be dealt with swiftly, and as citizens of Delray Beach, we must get involved to keep our area beautiful and prevent pollution of our waters.  If you see something suspicious, or witness such an accident, there are simple steps to take and phone numbers available.

The Delray Beach Fire Department has highly trained Hazmat personnel equipped to suit up, analyze substances, contain and clean up hazardous spills and releases.  If you witness such a spill or release, call 911 immediately and give an address and description of what happened.  If you see someone pour an unknown substance down an inlet, or if you see or smell an unknown substance in an inlet, call the Fire Department immediately (911) and give the dispatcher a description of the scene and an address.  The Fire Department will determine further steps needed for containment and clean up.  Never try to get samples of the substance yourself, leave that task to the professionals!

If you see someone pouring a substance into an inlet, and you know what the substance is, such as dirt, debris, concrete, motor oil or paint, call the Code Enforcement Department (243-7219) immediately and give a detailed description of the scene with the closest address to the inlet.

Print and place the following table near your phone or tape onto your refrigerator:

SceneDescriptionCall
Hazardous spill or release Spill or intentional release of unknown substance 911
Unknown substance in inlet Someone pouring unknown substance into inlet, or unknown substance found in inlet 911
Known substance in inlet Known substances such as oil, paint, concrete, trash, household products found in inlet 243-7219

Whether a hazardous spill or an illicit dumping is an accident or intentional, it is the responsibility of all of us to respond swiftly to protect the environment that surrounds our beautiful city, and all we need to do is pick up the phone!

EPA's Explorers' Club for Kids!

Go to the EPA's website for kids! There are many great sites such as the "Students' Site", "Teachers' Site", "Ask EPA" and more. Other topics include "Plants & Animals", "You and Your Environment", "Water", "Games", "Science Room", "Art Room" "Garbage & Recycling" and much, much more. There are downloadable coloring books, interactive pages, competitions, contests and a place to display your artwork. Check it out for learning about your environment while having fun. Even more information and fun may be found at EPA's Water for Kids! Webpage.

Construction within a MS4

A MS4 means a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, and relates to any stormwater conveyance system that discharges into State or Federal waters.  Our NPDES permit requires that if small construction activities of one to five acres, and development or redevelopment of five or more acres within a MS4, then certain steps are taken to ensure that the construction does not pollute our waters.  The City has its own requirements written in the Land Development Regulations, for construction along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Developing or Re-developing One Acre or More?

A NOI (Notice of Intent) form must be filled out and sent to the FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) two days prior to construction.  Authorization is granted 48 hours after NOI postmark.  As additional site operators are identified, they must submit a NOI.  The NOI assigned number (or assigned NPDES permit) must be kept visibly on site at all times throughout the project.

You can now apply online for Interactive Notice of Intent.  iNOI is a web-based application that allows you to complete, edit and submit NOIs, CGP and NOTs online.  You can also pay certain NPDES Stormwater permit fees online.

If you prefer, you can submit a completed NOI manually to:

NPDES Stormwater Notices Center, MS#2510
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL  32399-2400

A SWPPP (Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan) is created by the person in charge, such as contractor or owner, and kept on site at all times throughout the project.  Each new contractor or subcontractor who joins the project must sign a certification statement, and add it to the SWPPP.  The General Permit contains information on creating a SWPPP.  The person in charge of the project must inspect the site for BMPs (Best Management Practices) every week or after every 1/2" rain event.  This must be documented and available upon request.  A SWPPP Inspection and Maintenance Report Form is found in the City's Construction Standards or downloaded from the Palm Beach County NPDES Program web site.  A form for the SWPPP for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Small Construction Activities - One to Five Acres may be found here Pollution Prevention Plan, or downloaded from the Palm Beach County NPDES Program website.

A NOT (Notice of Termination) form must be filled out and sent to the FDEP upon completion of the project.  The NOI, NOT, General Permit for Construction Activities and other relevant information may be downloaded from the Palm Beach County NPDES Program web site.

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Who is SAM?

SAM stands for Stormwater And Me, and he is here to help us to understand where the "me" comes in to stop personal pollution of our waters.  There are so many simple, everyday things we can do to stop personal pollution: we can recycle, we can wash our cars away from stormwater inlets, we can fertilize our lawns on days we don't expect rain and we can stop blowing landscape debris into the streets, to name a few.  To find out more about what the "me" in "Stormwater And Me" means to each of us, go to Sam's website:

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AFTER–HOUR UTILITY EMERGENCIES:
PHONE: (561) 243-7318 (MUST LEAVE A MESSAGE)

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