Storm Water - Pollutant Control Mechanisms

How You Can Help Manage Stormwater

Stormwater is the result of rainfall that does not soak into the ground and flows into surface waterways or storm sewers.  Rain gardens and rain barrels are helpful to reducing the amount of stormwater.  Learn more about stormwater management in this Paducah View episode (6:09 minutes).  

Paducah View (episode 39) - Storm Water Management

Stormwater & Drainage Brochure for City of Paducah

Comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan and Current Projects

The City of Paducah is developing a Comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan.  The goals are to compile a document which provides a clear and concise explanation of the City’s existing stormwater management program, presents a detailed investigation into key components of stormwater as it is related to the City, establishes stormwater management goals for the future, presents tools to meet or exceed established goals and provides a foundation for future policy decisions.  Comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan Updates and Current Projects 

Stormwater Management Plan for Construction

Stormwater is a concern to the City of Paducah and has to be controlled from a quantity and quality standpoint.  Construction activities and increased impervious surfaces associated with new development and expansion of existing sites can lead to increased stormwater runoff and pollution.  To control the increase of stormwater runoff, developers of new and redeveloped property may be required to submit a Stormwater Management Plan 

Requirements for the Stormwater Management Plan and associated design criteria are outlined in Chapter 50 Article III of the Paducah Code of Ordinances.  Stormwater Management Plans and stormwater conveyance and management facilities are required if

  1. All land-disturbing activities and all development or redevelopment activities that disturb an area greater than or equal to one acre.
  2. Sites that are smaller than one acre may also be covered by these regulations if they are a part of a larger common plan of development or sale.
  3. Any nonresidential development for which the area paved and under roof is equal to or greater than 10,000 square feet.

Site Plan Review Process and Requirements

All commercial developments and additions in the City require a site plan be submitted to the Department of Planning (270-444-8690) for review before any building permits can be issued.  The process starts with a preliminary meeting with staff to discuss the proposed improvements and elements required to be on the plan.  Site plans should be drawn according to the Site Plan Checklist unless otherwise directed by staff.  Once an adequate site plan is submitted, Planning staff review it for compliance with applicable planning & zoning regulations.  If acceptable, Planning will sign off on the plan and forward it to the Engineering Department (270-444-8511) for review.  Once approved by Engineering, the Fire Prevention Division (270-444-8527) reviews it for building permits to be issued.  For more information about site planning including a checklist of requirements and standard notes for erosion prevention and sediment control and floodplains, visit Site Plans.

About Storm Water Phase II

Storm Water Phase II is an initiative of the United States Environmental Protection Agency that helps control pollutants entering waters of the Commonwealth.  The program consists of six minimum controls:  Public Education, Public Involvement, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control, Post Control Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment, and Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations.

As part of the Storm Water Phase II Program, the City of Paducah is responsible for regulating the MS4 System located within the corporate limits of the City with oversight from the Kentucky Division of Water.  A Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) means a conveyance, or system of conveyances (including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, and storm drains designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater that is owned or operated by the city and discharges to waters of the Commonwealth. Sanitary and combined sewers are not included in the definition of the municipal separate storm sewer system.

Excess sediment can fill rivers, lakes, and destroy aquatic habitats.  Construction and development are positive for the community, but proper management of pollutants commonly discharged from construction sites is important to keep pollutants from harming local lakes and streams.

The Paducah Engineering Department is responsible for procedures that inspect sites and have them comply with regulations regarding site runoff, erosion prevention, and sediment control.

Illicit Discharges

What Is Illicit Discharge?  Illicit discharge is any direct or indirect non-stormwater substance or hazardous material disposed, deposited, spilled, poured, injected, seeped, dumped, leaked, or placed by any means, intentionally or unintentionally, into the MS4 or any area that has been determined to drain directly or indirectly into the MS4.

Federal regulations define an illicit discharge as “...any discharge to a MS4 that is not composed entirely of stormwater...” with some exceptions.  These exceptions include discharges from NPDES-permitted industrial sources and discharges from fire-fighting activities.  Illicit discharges are considered illicit because MS4s are not designed to accept, process, or discharge such non-stormwater wastes.

Sources of Illicit Discharges include

* Sanitary wastewater * Effluent from septic tanks * Car wash wastewaters * Improper oil disposal * Radiator flushing disposal * Laundry wastewaters * Spills from roadway accidents * Improper disposal of Auto and Household toxins

Why Are Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Efforts Necessary?  Discharges from MS4s often include wastes and wastewater from non-stormwater sources.  A study conducted in 1987 in Sacramento, California, found that almost one-half of the water discharged from a local MS4 was not directly attributable to precipitation runoff.  A significant portion of these dry weather flows was from illicit and/or inappropriate discharges and connections to the MS4.

Illicit discharges enter the system through either direct connections (e.g., wastewater piping either mistakenly or deliberately connected to the storm drains) or indirect connections (e.g., infiltration into the MS4 from cracked sanitary systems, spills collected by drain outlets, or paint or used oil dumped directly into a drain). The result is untreated discharges that contribute high levels of pollutants, including heavy metals, toxins, oil and grease, solvents, nutrients, viruses, and bacteria to receiving water bodies. Pollutant levels from these illicit discharges have been shown in EPA studies to be high enough to significantly degrade receiving water quality and threaten aquatic, wildlife, and human health.

Not all non-stormwater discharges are considered illicit discharges.  Examples of exempt discharges include

* Water line flushing * Landscape irrigation * Diverted stream flows * Rising ground waters * Uncontaminated ground water infiltration * Uncontaminated pumped ground water * Discharges from potable water sources 8 Foundation drains * Air conditioning condensation * Irrigation water * Springs * Water from crawl space pumps * Footing drains * Lawn watering * Individual residential car washing * Flows from riparian habitats and wetlands * De-chlorinated swimming pool discharges * Street wash water

What Paducah is Doing.  By Paducah Code of Ordinances Chapter 42 - 52, illicit discharge is illegal, punishable by fines up to $500. The City has developed a Standing Operating Procedure for Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) to find, stop and eliminate all illicit discharges encountered.  To report a spill or an illicit discharge, contact the Engineering Department at 270-444-8511.

Erosion Control

Erosion is the wearing away of the ground surface as a result of the movement of wind, water, ice, and/or vehicles and equipment associated with land disturbance activities.  Construction activities can increase the amount of soil exposed on a property, which can lead to sediment runoff into adjacent streets, streams, and storm sewers.  To help minimize the amount of sediment runoff, developers of new and redeveloped property may be required to submit an Erosion Prevention and Sediment (EPSC) Plan.  EPSC plans with associated permits are required if:

(1)  All land-disturbing activities including development and redevelopment activities that disturb an area greater than or equal to one acre.  Sites that are smaller than one acre are also covered by this article if they are part of a larger common plan of development or sale as defined in this article.

(2)  Land-disturbing activities of less than one acre that have the potential to negatively impact local water quality, sensitive areas, or result in a nuisance to the public.  This determination will be made at the sole discretion of the City Engineer or his designee. 

The requirements for the EPSC plan and associated permits are outlined in Chapter 50 Article IV of the Paducah Code of Ordinances.


Before construction is started within the city limits, the Paducah Engineering Department requires construction sites that disturb one (1) acre or more or fall under the additional requirements outlined in Chapter 50 Article IV of the Paducah Code of Ordinances to file for a Grading/Land Disturbance/Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control Permit.

Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW) also requires construction sites that disturb one (1) acre or more of land to file for a Kentucky Pollution Discharge Elimination System (KPDES) Notice of Intent (NOI) for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity Under the KPDES General Permit.  Proof of site coverage through KDOW shall be included with the City's permit.


Periodic site inspections are required to be performed by the permittee or the designated site contractor at least once every seven (7) days and within 24 hours of the end of a storm that is 0.5 inches or greater.  A Construction Site Inspection Form has been developed by the Paducah Engineering Department for the contractor's use.

Stormwater Management and Water Quality Control Facilities or Best Management Practices (BMPs) are required to be annually inspected by the property owner pursuant to the City of Paducah, Kentucky, Code of Ordinances, Chapter 50, Article III, Section 50-155 and as outlined in the Declaration of Maintenance Obligations agreement. An inspection form should be filled out for each stormwater management and water quality control facility/BMP on site. Complete inspection forms shall be submitted to the City of Paducah Engineering Department by March 1 annually.
Stormwater Management and Water Quality Control Facilities Inspection Form

Construction Site Completion

When construction activity is completed, some erosion control devices are no longer needed, and vegetative cover is established, the permittee shall file for a Notice of Termination (NOT) with the KDOW and a NOT with the City of Paducah.  A final inspection by the City of Paducah Engineering Department may be required.

Water Quality

Why care about Stormwater Quality?  Stormwater contains pollutants that come from areas developed by people, and those pollutants affect our community’s water quality.  The amount or volume of stormwater that runs off of urban and suburban areas is often greater than the amount of stormwater that runs off forests and farms.  Buildings, rooftops, roads, and driveways are made of solid, impervious surfaces, so stormwater runs off these areas. In forests and on farms, trees, plants, crops and natural soils allow stormwater to soak into the ground, so less stormwater runs off these areas.  As the amount of stormwater runoff increases, so does the amount of pollution it picks up.

What Is Paducah Doing To Improve Stormwater Quality?  The City of Paducah has developed a Stormwater Quality Management Plan (SWQMP)—a roadmap for stormwater management activities to comply with the Stormwater Quality Program permit.  The SWQMP is reviewed every year and updated annually if needed. The Stormwater Quality Program permit and plan are based on six program areas designed to improve stormwater quality or which are monitored, assessed and reported on annually. 

  1. Public Education & Outreach
  2. Public Participation
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination  
  4. Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control 
  5. Long-Term (Post-Construction) Stormwater Runoff Control 
  6. Good Housekeeping/Pollution Prevention Program 

rain barrel programRain Gardens and Rain Barrels

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are landscaped areas around your home planted with wild flowers and other native vegetation that soak up rain water.  The rain water is mainly from impervious surfaces such as the roof of your home or other building.  The purpose of the rain garden is for a few inches of water to fill the garden after a storm and then the water will slowly filter into the ground.  Without the rain garden, the water would quickly run off to a ditch or storm drain.  The rain garden allows more water to soak into the ground.  Other benefits include reducing stormwater runoff, filtering of rain water of pollutants before it enters the ground, enhancing the beauty of yards and neighborhoods, and providing a habitat for birds, butterflies, and insects. 

The Lexington Fayette Urban County Government and associated businesses and organizations developed materials for homeowners to use to build a rain garden.

Rain Garden Brochure - brief overview of rain gardens
Rain Garden Manual - how-to instructions

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels collect and store rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.  The Jackson Purchase Foundation is a local 501(c)(3) organization that sells plastic rain barrels to the public.  

Helps Reduce Runoff Pollution:  Rainwater stored in rain barrels helps reduce the amount of runoff and the amount of pollution that is picked up off the land surface and carried to storm drains, streams, and rivers.

Conserves Water:  Lawn and garden watering makes up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer.  Rainwater used from rain barrels helps reduce the amount of water used from local sources.  

Better for Plants and Gardens:  Rainwater stored in rain barrels is naturally soft water and doesn't contain minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals.  Plants respond well to this.  After all, its what plants in the wild thrive on!

Saves You Money:  A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.  Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy.

Did you know...that one inch of rain falling on 1000 square feet of roof can yield 600 gallons of water?  Don't let this free water run away!