Stormwater - A Rare Resource
More often than not the clouds over Bernalillo County produce only a hint of rain—Virga rain—that never reaches the ground.
Because there is so little actual rainfall it’s very important to protect the stormwater that does come, to keep pollution out of the stormwater, to allow the stormwater to restore our gardens and the Rio Grande.
Bernalillo County Stormwater Management is responsible for programs intended to keep this natural resource clean and productive.
How rare is the rain? See our weather links page!
What is Stormwater Pollution?
Stormwater pollution is any material that could wash down drains or roadsides into arroyos, ditches or drains. All these lead to the Rio Grande.
Stormwater is not treated at a wastewater plant. It just runs downhill and downstream into the river. (A treatment plant would be very costly. It would have to be large enough to treat an entire storm, but would be idle 95% of the time—not a good use of taxpayer funds!)
Litter on the streets may be washed straight into the river. It’s ugly to see trash in the river, and much of it poisons the fish and wildlife. We try to pick up trash with street sweepers, but that costs taxpayer dollars too. It’s much better to stop it at the source—that means YOU! Just don’t litter!
You may not think about it, but street drains along with ditches and arroyos are really streams leading to the river when it rains. It’s important not to dump ANYTHING into them.
Dog waste is a serious source of bacteria in the river. About 20% of the bacteria in the river comes from our pet dogs. It doesn’t break down in our dry climate; it just waits for the rain. Please Scoop the Poop.
How your home is part of stormwater pollution
Anything but rain in the drains or arroyos is a pollutant. Really!
Many people think that water pollution is just industrial chemicals. But water quality is affected what we do every day. It’s not that any one person causes a lot of pollution, but all of us together add up to a lot of little pollutants.
When it rains, stormwater picks up debris from roads, chemicals from lawns, oil from cars and bacteria from animal waste. These pollutants make their way into our drains and arroyos, impairing water quality.
Oils, sewage, fertilizers, and household chemicals are poisons to the river. Just one home’s wastes multiplied by half a million other homes adds up to a real problem. Just as we put trash in bins for pickup, we need to realize that the little things we sprinkle on our lawn, or wash down our driveway will add up.
All Albuquerque and Bernalillo County residents may bring their household hazardous waste to the Hazardous Waste Collection Center, at 6137 Edith NE. Please check this website
for hours of operation.
Leaves and yard clippings can clog drains and cause flooding. In the river, these can decompose (rot) and cause excessive algae. Remember, lawns and green trees are lovely, but for the most part, they’re not a natural in the Albuquerque landscape, so our ecosystem is not adapted to absorb these things.
Only Rain in the Drains!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency regulates stormwater pollution nationwide, including Bernalillo County. Please see our EPA page
for more information.