Illicit Discharges

Illicit discharges are considered "illicit" because anything that goes through the separate sewer system is sent directly to a stream or lake and is not treated for pollutants.

Illicit discharges can result from:

  • A direct connection from the sanitary sewer to the storm sewer
  • Cracked wastewater pipes that infiltrate into the storm sewer
  • Chemical spills that drain into storm sewer inlets
  • Illegal disposal of paint, oil or other substances into storm drains

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require communities to develop and administer plans to detect and eliminate illicit discharges. About 30 local Co-Permittee cities and counties have delegated that responsibility to SD1, which implements and programs and practices to control pollution in storm water runoff. 

Common Sources of Illicit Discharges

  • Sanitary wastewater (sewage)
  • Failing septic tanks
  • Commercial car wash discharges
  • Improper oil and household chemical disposal
  • Swimming pool discharges
  • Laundry wastewater
  • Illegal dumping
  • Chemical spills

Signs of an Illicit Discharge

  • Water flowing from storm pipes during dry weather
  • Color in waterways during both wet and dry weather
  • Distinct odors that can be caused by sewage, chemicals, organic breakdown and more
  • Water cloudiness during both wet and dry weather
  • Floatables in waterways, such as sewage, oil sheen and suds

Reporting an Illicit Discharge

If you discover an illicit discharge, report it to SD1 by calling 859-578-7450. Include the following information:

  • Where the discharge is located
  • What the discharge looks like
  • Who caused the discharge, if known
  • When the discharge occurred or when you noticed it

Contaminated storm water runoff is considered one of the most significant sources of water pollution in the nation. Illicit discharges pollute the waterways we use for drinking water and recreation, threatening public health and harming the environment.

Illicit Discharges: How You Can Help

  • Report illicit discharges.
  • Clean areas where illegal dumping has occurred and prevent future dumping by posting signage on restrictions in the area.
  • Mark storm drains to educate others not to dump.
  • Use environmentally friendly safe soaps and cleaning products when washing vehicles.
  • Wash cars on your lawn or at a commercial car wash rather than cleaning them on your driveway.
  • Make sure all interior plumbing lines are properly connected to a sanitary system.
  • Dispose of swimming pool discharge through a sanitary sewer line or dechlorinate before discharging into a local waterway or storm drain.
  • Maintain septic systems and repair them immediately if damaged.