Storm Water 101

While storm water is not a subject that is typically taught in school, we should all be aware

of storm water and how it plays a vital role in our environment. Storm water is an important factor in the health of our oceans.  Here in Hawaii, the ocean is one of our greatest resources. We must protect it to ensure a thriving future for generations to come. In this blog, you will learn the storm water basics, providing you with all the knowledge needed to keep our waters clean and teach others why they should do the same.

What is storm water?

Storm water is water that accumulates on land as a result of rain and can include runoff from urban areas such as roads and highways.

What are storm drains?

Storm drains are passageways, often found on the sides of roads or highways, that collect storm water runoff to avoid flooding. These lead directly to the ocean. In some states, storm water is treated and pollutants and contaminants are removed before they reach a body of water. Here in Hawaii, storm water goes into the ocean untreated, and is separate from waste water.

Why is storm water important?

Storm water is important, particularly here in Hawaii, as it has a direct impact on the health of our oceans. Because storm  water is untreated, everything that ends up in our storm water and storm drains affects our marine life. This is why we must keep them free of chemicals, waste, and other pollutants.

How can we keep our storm drains clear?

There are a variety of ways you can help to keep our storm drains clear. The seven biggest pollutants in our waterways are sediment, yard waste, pet waste, pesticides and herbicides, litter, hazardous household waste, and vehicle maintenance products. You can help by always disposing of your waste properly – whether you are having a picnic at the park, mowing your grass, changing the oil in your car, or getting rid of old medications.

Try to reduce water runoff by building a rain garden and ensure impervious surfaces, like concrete, are kept clear of chemicals and other pollutants. Always pick up your pet’s waste and other trash whenever you spot it. For more steps you can take to help reduce storm water pollution, visit our website.

What is Storm Water Hawaii?

Storm Water Hawaii is the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s Storm Water Management Program. This initiative was established to comply with Oahu’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit. One of its main components is a public education and outreach program, designed to promote changes in attitude, knowledge, and awareness of storm water; the implementation of best management practices; the reduction of pollutant loads; and changes in discharge and receiving water quality. 

How can you learn more about storm water?

If you are interested in learning more about storm water and how you can Mālama I Ka Wai, or Protect Our Water, check out the resources, blogs, tips, and storm water plan on our website.  Also, if you’re looking to teach your elementary school students about storm water, make sure to check out our Hawaii Storm Patrol book and video modules.

Sources: Storm Water Hawaii, Hydro International