Over the past few years, blue markers have been installed on many stormwater drains throughout Naval Station Mayport. These aluminum markers that state “No Dumping * Drains to River” are being installed as part of a continuing public education effort with the goal to remind people that water and other substances that go down our storm drains flow directly to the creeks and rivers that surround us on nearly every side.
At Naval Station Mayport we have two very different “sewer” systems. Liquids that enter the SANITARY sewer system, typically through sinks, toilets, and floor drains, flow to the Station’s wastewater treatment plant. There they are treated in a series of processes to disinfect the flow and remove contaminants. Even so, caution must be taken not to place materials into the sanitary system that could clog pipes or disrupt the processes at the wastewater treatment plant.
Conversely, liquids and materials entering the STORM sewer system receive little to no treatment prior to discharge. The storm sewer system is designed to efficiently carry rain water off of our roadways and from around structures to prevent flooding. The only treatment that stormwater may receive is if it is absorbed into the soil or taken up by plants that grow in storm ponds or ditches. However, most of the stormwater sewer lines are comprised of steel culverts and concrete lined ditches that speeds the flow of stormwater to the river and do not treat or “clean” water pollution. There are hundreds of stormwater inlets in parking lots, in streets, and between buildings here at Naval Station Mayport. It is best to assume that any drain you see in outdoor areas connects to the storm sewer system.
Because of the nature of stormwater system designs, our personal practices have a significant effect on water quality in the St. Johns River and other nearby water bodies. Whatever you drip, drop, sweep or blow into storm drains or even just onto streets, piers and parking lots will most likely ultimately end up in the river. While most people are probably aware of the adverse effects of oil and chemicals on fish and other aquatic species, people should also be aware of the adverse effects of such substances as soapy water, soil, grass clippings, cigarette butts, and litter. Naval Station has processes for getting rid of all types of wastes. Sweeping them into streets and storm drains isn’t one of them.
When you see storm drain markers around the Station, remember that whether marked or not, storm drains are for stormwater only and streets are not disposal sites. If you notice substances leaking or being dumped to the storm sewer system, you are encouraged to notify the Environmental Division at 270-3191.