Discover Niagara Falls

Stormwater Management

What is the problem?

Stormwater runoff is a natural part of the hydrologic cycle but as land use changes, runoff can increase by 45%, resulting in erosion, pollutant transport, sedimentation, loss of aquatic habitat, and other damages.

As more land is developed, more erosion occurs and soils are transported to other areas causing deposits downstream and increasing problems with flooding and pollution.  In developed areas, rain water runoff picks up chemicals, debris and other pollution, especially if it is on surfaces where water flows easily like roofs and pavement, and carries it to stormwater ditches and pipes.  This runoff is ultimately transported to our creeks, streams, ponds, rivers and lakes.   In addition, some intentional activities add materials to stormwater that are not meant to enter our waterways.  As the pollution and debris build up, it affects vegetation and wildlife along with other impacts that harm the environment and everybody’s ability to enjoy their natural surroundings.

What is the government doing?

Under the Clean Water Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) enacted regulations that are intended to protect these waterways and water bodies from pollution and protect our lands from further harm due to the effects of polluted stormwater.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is approved by the USEPA to administer a program and issue General Stormwater Permits.  These Permits regulate the pollution of the waters of the US by Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) and require the MS4 to educate the public.   The NYSDEC has designated areas in which MS4s must obtain permit coverage to discharge stormwater to waters of the US.  The NYSDEC website contains a map of designated areas at http://www.dec.ny.gov/imsmaps/stormwater/viewer.htm .

The USEPA has established six minimum control measures that must be included in every MS4 program; Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts, Public Participation / Involvement, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Runoff Control, Post-Construction Stormwater Management, and Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations.  These minimum measures are set up to prohibit and systematically eliminate pollution of US waters by systems intended to transport only rainwater and natural runoff from rain storms.  In doing so, it is making every effected community responsible for all activities that happen within its jurisdiction including developer, industrial, commercial and residential impacts.

Where does Niagara County fit in?

Niagara County contains 11 MS4 communities in the NYSDEC Designated Areas; the Town of Cambria, Town of Lewiston, Village of Lewiston, Town of Lockport, Town of Niagara, City of Niagara Falls, City of North Tonawanda, Town of Pendleton, Town of Porter, Town of Wheatfield and Village of Youngstown.  Each of these municipalities is responsible for administering their own MS4 stormwater program.  Niagara County does not oversee the municipalities’ individual programs but works in association with these communities where County jurisdiction applies.

Niagara County is designated as an MS4 and must also comply with the MS4 General Permit for County owned property within the NYSDEC Designated Area.  Niagara County owns and operates two parks in the MS4 Designated Area, Oppenheim Park in Niagara Falls and West Canal Marina Park in Pendleton.  Three buildings in the City of Niagara Falls are also in the Designated Area; the Angelo A. DelSignore Civic Building, Human Resources Building and Niagara Falls Social Services TOP.  The County also monitors stormwater transport and discharge along approximately 41 miles of roads located within the Towns and Villages. 

Where can I get information on the County’s program?

Niagara County’s plan for implementation of the USEPA minimum control measures is described in the County Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP), as required by the NYSDEC.  This website contains a copy of the most recently accepted County SWMP.

Each year, Niagara County must submit an annual report to update the NYSDEC on the activities of its program to demonstrate that it is following the requirements of the permit.  This website contains the most recent annual report.  Within this Annual Report is the listed Stormwater Management Officer for the Niagara County with contact information.  If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the designated Stormwater Management Officer to assist you.  If you are unable to open the document or find the appropriate contact, please call the Niagara County Department of Public Works, Engineering Division at 716-439-7250 and they can assist you or give you the appropriate contact information.

Stormwater forms can be returned to one of the following:

Richard Eakin, P.E.
Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Engineering
Stormwater Management Officer
Philo J. Brooks Building, Second Floor
59 Park Avenue
Lockport, NY 14094

Brian Doyle
Stormwater Management Coordinator
County Highway Facility
225 South Niagara Street
Lockport, NY 14094
e-mail: Brian Doyle

Where else can I get information?

Niagara County works cooperatively with 43 other local regulated MS4 owners, including the 11 municipalities located within the County, through the Western New York Stormwater Coalition (WNYSC).  The WNYSC administers certain portions of the Niagara County SWMP and assists all member communities with establishing and maintaining the required components of their stormwater programs.  For more information , visit the WNYSC website at

http://www.erie.gov/environment/compliance/pollution_sw2.asp

Each MS4 municipality administers its own program.  Please use the link to the NYSDEC or the WNYSC to find out if the City, Town or Village in which you live or work must comply with MS4 Stormwater Requirements.  Then visit the City, Town or Village website for more information on their individual program.

The USEPA and NYSDEC have a lot of information on stormwater and other environmental issues on their websites.  There are other organizations such as the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the national Center for Watershed Protection that deal with stormwater programs.  Locally, the Buffalo/Niagara Riverkeepers Organization is active in programs associated with stormwater and have ways in which the public can get involved.  See the website links below for information on all of these organizations:

What can residents do to help?

There are many ways in which the things we do impact our stormwater.  Illegal sanitary sewer connections, damaging or changing stormwater drains or pipes, and dumping materials into stormwater drains are some of the intentional actions that can pollute our stormwater systems.  Other activities also result in polluted stormwater that may not be so obvious, such as discharging chlorinated pool water to storm drains, using pesticides and herbicides on our lawns and gardens, using outdoor cleaning solutions where they enter storm systems, and changing vegetated areas to areas of pavement or concrete.

Residents can help to prevent pollution by properly disposing of all materials.   Some household materials contain hazardous chemicals and should not be disposed of in your regular trash. Pharmaceutical and Hazardous Waste drop offs are available, please contact the County Division of Environmental Solid Waste for more information.  Never bury or dispose of any kind of waste on your property or dump materials into storm drains.

The municipal employees that monitor this program cannot be at all places at all times.  Residents can help by reporting questionable activities.  A local law is in place that prohibits discharging of unauthorized materials into storm systems.  Please fill out the Illicit Discharge Reporting form to report any activity that may be impacting a storm system.   If you report an activity to the County that is out of its jurisdiction, we will forward your comments to the appropriate Town, City, Village, or organization that can address your concerns.

Another local law is in place that requires construction companies to protect storm systems while performing their work. The Construction Activity Reporting Form may be used to report any construction activities that do not have barriers or treatment in place to stop construction materials or soils from entering the storm drain system.  If you report an activity to the County that is out of its jurisdiction, we will forward your comments to the appropriate Town, City, Village or organization that can address your concerns.

Get involved and spread the word!  We all want to have clean waterways so we have to all work together to make that happen!

Stormwater forms can be returned to one of the following:

Richard Eakin, P.E.
Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Engineering
Stormwater Management Officer
Philo J. Brooks Building, Second Floor
59 Park Avenue
Lockport, NY 14094

Brian Doyle
Stormwater Management Coordinator
County Highway Facility
225 South Niagara Street
Lockport, NY 14094
e-mail: Brian Doyle