Storm Water Illicit Discharge Program

An illicit discharge has been defined by the EPA as “any discharge into a separate storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of storm water.” Typically, illicit discharges enter a storm sewer system either

A sanitary sewer lateral tied directly into a storm sewer line
through a direct connection to sanitary sewer piping or indirectly from cracked sanitary sewer conveyance systems, spills collected by storm drains, or contaminants dumped directly into a storm drain. Pollutants associated with illicit discharges include bacteria, paint, toxins, oil and grease, solvents and nutrients.These untreated discharges have the potential to cause significant degradation of water quality. The following are typical examples of illicit discharges:
  • Sanitary wastewater
  • Leaky septic tanks
  • Laundry wastewater
  • Commercial car wash discharges
  • Improper disposal of household or automotive chemicals
  • Spills from roadway accidents

Failing septic system
Several commercial industries that handle chemicals and produce byproducts can be susceptible to producing illicit discharges. Examples of these industries include pool cleaning companies, carpet and upholstery cleaning companies, concrete companies and commercial car washes. SD1 continuously educates these industries on the dangers of illicit discharges and provides information on best management practices that can be employed to avoid illicit discharges. SD1 has provided education to the following industries:
SD1’s Illicit Discharge Program includes three phases: detection, investigation and elimination.  
  • Detection: SD1 performs routine inspections of storm sewer systems during dry weather to ensure no water or other fluid is coming out of the storm sewer. Additionally, SD1 regularly receives public reports of illicit discharges into the storm sewer system. For every inspection performed or complaint received, SD1 performs a number of water quality tests to determine if an illicit discharge is present.  
  • Investigation: If results of an inspection detect that an illicit discharge is present, SD1 will perform further investigation to determine the source(s).  Often, it is necessary to conduct physical inspections of commercial, industrial and residential properties to verify the exact source of the illicit discharge. If the source cannot be located through physical observations, SD1 will perform further sewer investigations.  
  • Elimination: Once the source of the illicit discharge has been determined, SD1 will enforce removal and correction of the illicit discharge or illegal connection. SD1 has developed an Enforcement Response Plan to ensure that violations of the Northern Kentucky Regional Storm Water Management Program Rules and Regulations are remedied promptly and consistently.
Detecting and Reporting an Illicit Discharge 
It is important that Northern Kentucky residents report any suspicious discharges to SD1 as soon as possible. When trying to determine if what you see is an example of an illicit discharge to the separate storm water sewer system, look for: liquid flowing from pipes during dry weather, foam appearing in streams, lakes and other bodies of water, discolored water and unusual odors.

To report an illicit discharge or water quality concern, call SD1's main office at 859-578-7450.
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