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Pollution, Regulation, and Roanoke
Like many rivers across the country, the health of the Roanoke River is impaired because of pollution. Beneficial uses such as swimming, fishing, and drinking are impaired and several areas cannot support normal wildlife populations. These problems create adverse impacts on communities in terms of reduced livability, suppressed economies, and make our use of water as a natural resource more expensive. To help combat these problems, federal and state agencies have implemented regulations to control and eliminate stormwater pollution from three mains areas: municipal storm sewer systems, construction sites, and industrial activities. This web page provides insights on what the City of Roanoke is doing to meet our requirements under the stormwater regulations, and to help you learn what you and others can do to help.

Stormwater Run-off

When it rains, the water has to go somewhere, but just where it all goes is “out of sight and out of mind” for many people. Intuitively, most understand that stormwater makes its way to creeks, rivers and eventually the ocean. An often overlooked fact is that along the way it picks up the pollutants of daily human living and concentrates them in our waterways. Normal routines such as walking the dog, fertilizing the lawn, and driving and working on cars all generate pollution. During dry weather, these and other contaminants accumulate on hard surfaces such as streets and parking lots until a storm comes and washes them into the storm sewer system. This “toxic soup” is then piped, without any treatment, directly to the nearest waterway.

Roanoke River Watershed
The job of the storm sewers is to help prevent flooding by collecting and draining away stormwater run-off. Stormwater is not treated or filtered like sanitary sewage, so without proper protection, the storm sewers can become an efficient system for concentrating pollution and harming our environment. In Roanoke, our storm sewer system discharges all of the stormwater it collects to the Roanoke River or one of its many tributaries, such as Peters Creek or Lick Run. From there it flows to Smith Mountain Lake, across the North Carolina border, and into Albemarle Sound (Roanoke River Watershed).