The Importance of Stormwater

One of the most important resources that a city needs to survive is a constant and clean water supply. Chicago’s main water supply is Lake Michigan, which also provides water for millions of people bordering the lake. However, the existence of contaminants in the water supply have been questioned. Specifically, stormwater is a major contributor of contaminants in Lake Michigan. Stormwater, “is water from rain – or melting snow – that does not quickly soak into the ground”(CWSEC). This stormwater, runs over houses, lawns, and streets into storm drains. These storm drains, carry the stormwater to purification plants, however some lead directly to the nearest water source which in this case is Lake Michigan. So, the importance of stormwater is that it “collects and transports soil, pet waste, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, leaves, litter, and other potential pollutants that ultimately wind up in local bodies of water”(CWSEC). This is relevant to the City of Chicago since a past water quality study showed “emerging contaminants, including Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals(EDCs), Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Products, and hexavalent chromium”(cityofchicago). So, awareness that all storm drains lead to our water source needs to be raised in order to prevent pollution of Chicago’s main water source.

What would be the best course of action and who would be affected? The best course of action would be to raise awareness not to dump in storm drains, whether it chemicals or litter so as not to contaminate the water supply. The population affected in this case would be the millions of people in Chicago and the surrounding states bordering Lake Michigan because they rely on this water to live. If it were to be contaminated significantly, then millions of people who rely on it would be out of water.

Why would this plan be beneficial and how would it relate to urban sustainability? This plan would be beneficial to preserve the cleanliness of our city’s water source. Clean and functioning storm drains relate to promoting urban sustainability because each time it rains or snows in the city, water flows into the sewers carrying harmful contaminants into purification plants or directly into the lake. If enough contaminants make their way to the lake, the surrounding cities will have a shortage of fresh water in addition to the effects on the environment.

Works Cited

“City of Chicago Emerging Contaminant Study.” City of Chicago ::. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct.


“Why Is Stormwater Important?” Cwsecsc org RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2016.


3 thoughts on “The Importance of Stormwater

  1. I just wanted to comment on the emerging contaminants of pharmaceuticals that you mentioned here. Like what Professor Kocs was talking about today in class, flushing old or unused medications down the drain is very detrimental to our environment. It was such a common practice that the FDA website still promotes flushing your medication down the drain. What is taking place now are medication take back events in multiple cities to stop this bad habit. Just another approach we can take to help preserve the cleanliness of our city’s water source.


  2. This is really interesting issue because like many sustainable efforts it relies on people moving away from being complacent with their actions. We are lucky enough to have water as a resource in the city so we never really feel the paint of being without it. This creates a comfort that yields unsustainable lifestyles. When talking about reducing waste or changing people’s mentalities about something the biggest hurdle is getting them out of that comfort.


  3. Stormwater indeed is a big issue on the water safety of society. And, as you pointed out, we need to raise awareness on issues like waste. I fear raising awareness will no be enough. But the water seems to be in a system already, and I wonder if it would be possible to clean the water while it is running off. In Switzerland, many cities can be found at the outlets of lakes, and due to the mountains and the melting snow in spring, they had to come up with smart solutions to prevent floods and pollution of the drinking water. I am no expert in this, but I do know that the city of Zurich, for example, has vast reservoirs in which the city stores purified water from the lake. Not only is clean water always available through this, but it also saves cities downstream from floods. With some research, those systems could be examined and understood.


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