Stormwater Management

Storm Water Prevention:

It all begins with the watershed. What is a watershed? A watershed is all of the land that water moves across or under the land while flowing to a specific body of water.  A water shed includes the land and the water in it as well as the plants, animals and humans who live and work there.  Every area of the earth in which water falls on land is a watershed; so no matter where you live, you live in a watershed.  Delaware City is located in the Christiana and Dragon Run Watersheds.  It is important that we keep our water clean, and Stormwater Management helps do this.

Delaware City has a Storm Water Prevention Ordinance and participates in the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. Mandated by Congress under the Clean Water Act, the NPDES Stormwater Program is a comprehensive two-phased national program for addressing the non-agricultural sources of stormwater discharges which adversely affect the quality of our nation’s waters. The program uses the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting mechanism to require the implementation of controls designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by stormwater runoff into local water bodies.  Delaware City along with New Castle County and Del D.O.T.  worked together to update the permit.  Another good source for information is the EPA Stormwater website.

The City maintains an extensive drainage system within the public rights-of-way. The system is a combination of catch basins connected by pipes and open ditches or swales. Stormwater drains to the Delaware River, the Branch Canal, or to Dragon Run. Most of the outfalls to the river and the Branch Canal have tide gates which prevent flood waters from entering the town through the drainage system.

Delaware City holds a permit from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the discharge of stormwater. Under the terms of this National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, the City is obligated to monitor and control both the quantity and quality of storm water runoff leaving the town. It is illegal to introduce pollutants into the storm drainage system, including laundry water, waste oil, pesticides, or other chemicals.

The stormwater management programs are designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by stormwater runoff into the storm sewer system (or dumped) and then discharged from the storm sewer system into local waterbodies.  Polluted stormwater runoff is a leading cause of impairment to the nearly 40 percent of surveyed U.S. water bodies which do not meet water quality standards. Over land or via storm sewer systems, polluted runoff is discharged, often untreated, directly into local water bodies. When left uncontrolled, this water pollution can result in the destruction of fish, wildlife, and aquatic life habitats; a loss in aesthetic value; and threats to public health due to contaminated food, drinking water supplies, and recreational waterways. 

The State of Delaware also regulates land disturbing activities to control erosion and sediment pollution. Development, including grading as well as construction, requires a permit and an approved plan to control sediment leaving the development site. The New Castle Conservation District has been delegated the authority to review stormwater plans for Delaware City.

When it rains or snows, oil, antifreeze, detergents, pesticides and other pollutants get washed from driveways, yards, parking lots, streets, farm fields, and construction sites into swales and storm drains and then directly into streams and rivers. Follow what happens to a raindrop from our neighborhoods to our waterways.

Per acre, homes use more pesticides than farms. Applying fertilizer and pesticides before a rain produces large amounts of polluted runoff. Contrary to popular belief, rain does not help “soak in” the chemicals but rather washes them away down a storm drain. Once these chemicals are introduced into lakes and streams they promote the growth of algae that kills fish. By applying chemicals several days before rain is forecast, you can help your yard and the environment. Also, consider reducing the number of applications of fertilizer and pesticides.

Pet waste left on the ground gets carried away by stormwater, contributing harmful nutrients, bacteria, parasites and viruses to our streams, rivers and bays. Clean up after your pet and dispose of the waste down the toilet or in the garbage. Never dispose of pet waste down the storm drain!

Vehicle fluids such as oil, gas, and antifreeze are a major water quality problem nationwide. A single quart of used motor oil can contaminate a quarter of a million gallons of fresh water! Maintain your vehicles to prevent dripping onto driveways and roads. Recycle used oil – NEVER dump it into a storm drain! Old motor oil can be reprocessed and used again and again- Places to Recycle Motor Oil. Just put it in a container with a tight lid such as a plastic jug or metal can, and take it to a community oil recycling center.  Call the Delaware Solid Waste Authority at 800.404.7080 or go to for a complete list of drop off locations in your area.  Do not pour anything else in with the oil because contaminated oil cannot be recycled.

Washing your car on pavement allows dirt, oils and detergents to run into storm drains. To prevent stormwater pollution, use commercial car washes, which treat or recycle water, or wash your vehicle on grassed areas so that the runoff can soak into the ground. Hosing off pavements washes pollutants into storm drains leading straight to surface waters. Sweep your debris into a proper receptacle – Not into the storm drain!

Yard waste such as grass clippings, tree trimmings, and leaves can clog storm drains causing pooling water and creating dangerous driving conditions. They also add excess nutrients to ponds and stream, leading to algae blooms and fish kills. Sweep your debris into a proper receptacle – Not into the storm drain! Leave grass clippings on the lawn for free natural fertilizer. And compost yard and garden wastes to provide rich additives for your gardens, or take them to a recycling facility.

Litter and debris can clog storm drains and be carried directly into a nearby stream, pond, river or bay. Keep trash in your car until it can be disposed of properly! Street litter such as styrofoam, plastic, cigarette butts, and paper can be prevented from blowing and washing into inlets by keeping trash bins covered and by not littering.

Did you know that cigarette butts make up a very large portion of the litter and trash on our streets and highways? DelDOT spends a lot of money to sweep tons of cigarette butts from the roads each year. The butts wash into storm drains and streams, where they pollute water and poison wildlife. Plus, they can ignite fires in dry brush and mulch!

Reducing your use of toxic or harmful chemicals around the home reduces the potential for these materials to find their way into our waterways. If you must use chemicals such as cleaners, choose organic or biodegradable products whenever possible.  Always use household chemicals such as cleaners, paints and pesticides according to the label directions and dispose of them properly. NEVER dump or wash leftover materials into storm drains!

Do you know how to dispose of your old and unused household waste and electronics? What about all those documents with confidential information? The Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) is here to help! They hold regular drop off events for Hazardous Household Waste and Electronics and shredding events to destroy that sensitive information.  Check out this site for upcoming recycling events:  Delaware residents can bring their household hazardous waste to these sites for free!  Why not just throw it in the trash? 

  • Properly disposing of dangerous household chemicals and unused medicines keeps them from polluting our land and water. 
  • Recycling electronic goods removes potentially hazardous materials from the stream and saves landfill space. 
  • Shredding sensitive documents is one way to reduce your risk of becoming an identity theft victim.

Construction sites can release large amounts of harmful sediment into streams if proper erosion controls are not used. Some common erosion control practices are vegetative filter strips, silt fence, gravel drives, and runoff inlet protection.

The stormwater management programs are designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by stormwater runoff into the storm sewer system (or dumped) and then discharged from the storm sewer system into local waterbodies.

We partner with New Castle County and Del D.O.T. for a comprehensive storm water pollution prevention and management program.  As part of our agreement, Delaware City submits an  NPDES 2018 Annual Report to New Castle County updating them of our Storm Water practices.   If you should witness any illegal discharges to our storm water system, please report it immediately to Town Hall 302-834-4573.  Illicit discharges are anything which causes or contributes to pollution of our storm water system.  Pollutants may include, but are not limited to: paints, varnishes, and solvents; oil and other automotive fluids; non-hazardous liquid and solid wastes and yard wastes; refuse, rubbish, garbage, litter, or other discarded or abandoned objects, ordinances, and accumulations, that may cause or contribute to pollution; floatables; pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers; hazardous substances and wastes; sewage, fecal coliform and pathogens; dissolved and particulate metals; animal wastes; wastes and residues that result from constructing a building or structure; and noxious or offensive matter of any kind.  For special recycling information for some of these pollutants, please visit the DSWA website.  Delaware City contracts with KCI to monitor any illicit discharges.  We received the 2018 IDDE Program Annual Report from KCI.   Only rain down the drain!  Remember If You Wouldn’t Drink It, Don’t Dump It!!

New Castle County, Del D.O.T. and the City of Wilmington have launched a water pollution hot line: (302) STOPPIT  for county residents to report pollution going into or coming out of the storm sewer system. The Double P means “Prevent Pollution.”

When residents see evidence that someone has dumped chemicals or debris into the storm sewer system, here’s what they can do:

-Visit and fill out an online form
-Call or send a text message to (302) STOPPIT (302.786.7748) with the location and details
-Email with the location and details

The storm drains that line streets and parking lots connect to the storm sewer system and eventually reach local streams and rivers. For this reason, it is illegal for anyone to dispose of motor oil, household chemicals, yard waste, pet waste, or any other materials in storm drains and storm sewers. The county and its partners will investigate all tips from residents and take appropriate action, which may include containment, cleanup, and issuing citations.

What Else You Can Do:

Some suggestions for homeowners to help with stormwater management are to plant trees, have rain barrels, do conservation landscapes, use permeable pavers, remove impervious surfaces, pledge not to fertilizer.  Read the Rainscaping Manual published by the Watershed Stewards Academy for information and ideas on how to achieve these practices.

Online Resources for Homeowners:

Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens –

Hazardous Wastes, Electronic Goods & Paint –

Automobile Oil & Oil Filters –

Lawn Care Practices –

Pool Water –

Projects to Reduce Pollution –