Stormwater

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The City of Palm Bay is dedicated to preserving the water quality of the community in order to protect, maintain and enhance the immediate and long term health, safety and general welfare of the citizens in Palm Bay.

Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain 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.

Here in Palm Bay we live in the Indian River Lagoon Watershed, the majority of water in Palm Bay reaches the Indian River Lagoon through Turkey Creek or via direct discharge.

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land in which all of the water that enters it, drains into a common waterbody. Also known as a drainage basin, it can be thought of as a "funnel" that collects surface water and ground water and drains it into a single stream, lake, ocean, or other reservoir. Hills and ridges usually separate one watershed from the next.

Why are watersheds important?

Humans, plants, and animals need clean water to survive, and the activities in a watershed determine the health of its water. Florida's multi-billion dollar tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing industries rely on clean water. Vegetation in a healthy watershed can filter pollutants, reduce erosion, and prevent flash flooding during storms. Urban development and other human activities can impact water quality. Because water flows freely across state and political boundaries, it is important to focus management plans on entire basins instead of single towns or tributaries.

How are watersheds protected?

Florida's Watershed Restoration Framework was created to embrace this holistic, ecosystem-based approach and to integrate Florida's longstanding water protection programs into more effective, comprehensive action. The program specifically carries out provisions of the Florida Watershed Restoration Act (Florida Statutes section 403.067), as well as other legal authorities, volunteer networks, public education, and financial assistance to clean up water pollution or prevent it in the first place.


Non-point Source Management

Discharge of water to a waterbody is identified be either a point source or a non-point source.

Point source discharges are easily identified and include wastewater plant discharges, etc. These point source discharges are regulated by the Environmental protection Agency and Florida Department of Environmental Protection to identify the amount of pollutant allowed to be discharged.  Most point discharges have been eliminated totally and no longer exist.

Non-point discharges include drainage of pollutants into waterbodies that can not be readily identified as to where the source of the pollutants originated.  This includes all stormwater runoff that is conveyed through the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) and into waterbodies.  As part of the City's NPDES Permit, there are actions performed to monitor and identify the amount of pollutants introduced into these outfalls.


NPDES Permits

City of Palm Bay - MS4 Permit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the Federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permitting program in two phases. Phase I, promulgated in 1990, addresses the following sources:

"Large" and "medium" municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) located in incorporated places and counties with populations of 100,000 or more, and Phase II, promulgated in 1999, addresses additional sources, including MS4s not regulated under Phase I, and small construction activity disturbing between 1 and 5 acres.

In October 2000, EPA authorized the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to implement the NPDES stormwater permitting program in the State of Florida (in all areas except Indian Country lands). FDEP's authority to administer the NPDES program is set forth in Section 403.0885, Florida Statutes (F.S.). The NPDES stormwater program regulates point source discharges of stormwater into surface waters of the State of Florida from certain municipal, industrial and construction activities. As the NPDES stormwater permitting authority, FDEP is responsible for promulgating rules and issuing permits, managing and reviewing permit applications, and performing compliance and enforcement activities.

Important note: The NPDES stormwater permitting program is separate from the State's stormwater/environmental resource permitting programs (found under Part IV, Chapter 373, F.S. (593KB) and Chapter 62-25, F.A.C. and local stormwater/water quality programs, which have their own regulations and permitting requirements.

City of Palm Bay's current NPDES Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. 

State Permits Required for Development and Construction

Environmental Resource Permits


Education and Outreach

Community outreach and public information, play a vital role in the success of the Stormwater Program.  Providing knowledge to our residents, businesses and visitors to the pristine environment here in Palm Bay fostering stewardship in preserving these assets. Since the stormwater collected in the streets and catch basins flow untreated to our waterways, it is vital to prevent pollution at the source. Waterways become polluted when pollutants such as used motor oil, antifreeze, paints, fertilizers, pet waste, soapy water, and pesticides, are washed into the storm drains. It is the number one source of pollution in our nation’s urban waters today. Storm drains were designed to collect only rain and clean water runoff to prevent flooding during storms.

Never dispose of leaves, grass clippings, trash, oil, paint, chlorinated (pool) water, or any other type of pollutant into the gutters or street catch basins. Rake the leaves, dirt, and debris from the gutter in front of your home to help prevent clogs that can lead to flooding. Never place filters or screens in front of storm drains as this can lead to clogs and increased flooding.


Fertilizer Ordinance Information

So what does the Fertilizer Ordinance mean to you?  Here is the simplified version:

  • Rainy season ban from June 1 - September 30 for fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus applied to turf grass (established lawns); you can still apply fertilizers to your lawns that do not contain nitrogen or phosphorus during this period and you may continue to apply specialty fertilizer to your gardens, flowers, etc. as necessary.
  • No fertilizer containing phosphorus is allowed without a soil or tissue test which results indicate the need (must have a certified report from IFAS), phosphorus is abundant in most soils so adding is not needed. 
  • When applying fertilizer with nitrogen, make sure the total content contains at least 50% slow release.
  • Fertilizer free zone requires, at a minimum, prohibiting applying fertilizer within 10 feet of all bodies of water, no exceptions, this includes ponds, canals, ditches, creek and river.
  • Prohibits depositing grass clippings and fertilizer on any impervious surface (concrete, asphalt, and water bodies), as plants start to break down they will actually leach nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). 
  • Prohibits fertilizing on days when a heavy rain is expected, if the ground is saturated, or during a flood watch, tropical storm, or hurricane watch or warning. 
  • Establishes a voluntary low maintenance zone within 10' of all water bodies, recommend allowing vegetation that doesn’t require fertilizer to grow in these areas.
  • Requires professionals and institutional applicators to have training.  It’s called Green Industry Best Management Practice (GIBMP) certification and your lawn fertilizer caretakers are required by Florida State Statute. Verify with your professional that they have this certification.
  • Establishes penalties for non-compliance, two warnings before fines are imposed.

For more information visit the Be Floridian Now website, saving our lakes, rivers, estuaries one yard at a time!