Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a watershed?
An area of land that drains water, sediment, and dissolved materials to a common receiving body or outlet. The term is not restricted to surface water runoff and includes interactions with subsurface water. Watersheds vary from the largest river basins to just acres or less in size.
What is stormwater runoff?
Rainwater that does not percolate into the soil and which drains from the land; it may contain pollutants.
Where does raintwater go after it hits the ground?
Much of the rainwater percolates into the ground when it falls to earth. Sometimes the volume of rainwater exceeds the available soil storage capacity or the rain falls at a faster rate than it can percolate into the ground. This excess rainwater or stormwater runoff generally drains into a series of storm drains, depressions, swales, ditches, ponds, lakes, and canals. In Indian River County many of these waterways lead into three very large Relief Canals that discharge directly into the Indian River Lagoon.
What do I do if I see an area flooding after a rainfall?
Call the Indian River County Road and Bridge Division at 226-3460 and report the flooding.
How do swales function?
Generally, swales receive stormwater from adjacent roadways and other paved areas. Usually swales are covered in grass and the grass removes some of the dissolved nutrients that may be present in the stormwater. The grass also slows down the velocity of the stormwater and helps settle out sediment and particulates washed off the roads. Many times, swales are designed to hold water for up to 72 hours during which time they percolate the captured stormwater into the soil.
Who is responsible for the care and maintenance of swales?
The property owner is responsible for the daily care and maintenance of the swales located within the easements around their property. The Indian River County Road and Bridge Division is responsible for the care and maintenance of swales on County owned property.
What is the difference between a retention system and a detention system?
A retention system retains all the stormwater it receives and percolates it into the ground. A detention system detains stormwater and slowly releases it into a pond, canal, or other conveyance system; or percolates it into the ground. Retention and detention systems can be either wet or dry. Dry systems dry out within 72 hours after a rainfall event. If they don’t this means they were improperly designed or improperly maintained, or both. A wet detention system is designed to allow material to settle and it slowly releases captured water out of it through an orifice or weir in the outflow structure. Part of a wet detention pond – known as the permanent pool – is always below the level of the drain structure. Sometimes aquatic plants are planted around a pond’s perimeter to help filter sediment in stormwater runoff.
What is the best way to care for my pond?
The best way to care for your pond is to clear or clean inflow/outflow structures, remove nuisance and excess vegetation, repair eroded slopes, cleanup trash and yard waste in your yard and gutters and around storm drains. The use of shoreline vegetation can reduce erosion and trap pollutants in stormwater runoff before the runoff reaches the water in the pond. One of the best things you can do is not fertilize within 25 feet of your pond’s shoreline.
Where does stormwater go after it drains into the swales and ponds?
A small amount of the water evaporates into the atmosphere, some percolates into the ground, and some may flow into a series of ditches and canals that lead directly to the Indian River Lagoon.
How many canals do we have in Indian River County and where are they located?
There are hundreds of miles of canals in Indian River County and most are owned and operated by state created water management districts. Three of the largest canals are named the South, Main, and North Relief Canals. Once stormwater flows into most of the canals it eventually flows into the Indian River Lagoon.
Is the stormwater clean when it enters the Lagoon?
No. A large portion of the trash and garbage thrown onto our streets; chemicals from agriculture, industry, fertilizers, and households; sediments from construction sites; and petroleum products end up in the Lagoon after it rains.
What can I do to help keep stormwater clean?
Use fertilizers and pesticides according to the directions on the label, dispose of animal waste properly, dispose of trash and garbage in receptacles and recycle, use native Florida plants in landscaping, and report runoff from construction sites and illegal dumping and discharging to the Stormwater Division.
Who do I call if I see someone polluting our surface water by dumping garbage or other harmful contaminants?
- In a private development – First call the appropriate local law enforcement agency and then call the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at 1-877-272-8335 (1-877-2 SAVE FL).
- Within a County road right-of-way or on other County property– First call the appropriate local law enforcement agency and then if during Monday thru Friday between 8 am – 5 pm, call the Indian River County Pollution Reporting System at 772-226-1888 (Sprint/Nextel customers dial #IRC) or report online at www.ircstormwater.com
What is an Environmental Crime?
Environmental crimes harm Florida’s environment and put people at risk. These crimes can be generally defined as the willful or negligent violation of any law or rule enacted to protect the environment or regulate the generation and disposal of waste. Some examples include illegal disposal of hazardous waste, burning or burying prohibited materials, and unauthorized dredge and fill activity in wetlands.
What are some examples of Environmental Crimes?
Violations may not always be obvious, but some signs of violations may include:
- Containers or drums that appear to be abandoned (for example, you find them in forest, along a roadside, or otherwise in a place where it appears they do not belong), especially if they are corroded or leaking
- Discolored and/or stressed or dyling plant life
- Visible sheens on the ground or in the water
- Foul smelling or strange looking emissions
Look for odd activities, such as
- A truck dumping materials into a swale, ditch, canal, manhole, sewer drain, etc.
- A truck unloading drums at odd hours or in odd places
- A person buying drums on business or residential property
Where can I volunteer to help keep my community clean?
There are many organizations that promote a clean environment. Below is a short list of local organizations that you may want to contact:
Where can I go for more information on stormwater management?