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Pollutant of Concern & Stormwater

Pollutant of Concern (POCs) and Stormwater:

Pollutants of Concern in Rockland County’s surface waters (waters ‘above’ such as streams and rivers) are pollutants that may rise to levels high enough to cause a violation with New York’s water quality regulations.  When it rains, all the pollutants on the ground are flushed into our waterways through the stormwater.  Stormwater runoff is water from rain or even melting snow that runs over the land before it has a chance to soak into the ground, picking up and spreading pollutants.  Polluted stormwater runoff is a major source of contamination in the Nation’s waterbodies that ultimately pollutes our drinking water sources.  One goal of the State’s stormwater program is to implement no net increase of Pollutants of Concern in our waterways. Our everyday activities contribute to POCs, which include pathogens from trash and leaky septic systems, drippy motor oil from our vehicles, and nutrients that lead to excessive algae growth (“scum”) and fish die-offs.  See our Nutrient Pollution brochure for common POCs and ways you can reduce them at http://rocklandcce.org/fact-sheets.

EPA facebook post water quality runoff

(Note on side of photo): When it rains, stormwater runoff rapidly carries pollutants over the land within your watershed, such as salt from roadways, motor oil from our vehicles, fertilizers on our lawns, animal wastes and more.  This runoff flushes to local waterbodies causing great impacts to them and to the final receiving water in your watershed.  If you see a construction site with sediment leaving the site or draining to the catch basin which will also cause clogging, report this at once to your municipality

Clean above means Clean Below! The USEPA wants us to Soak up the Rain

Pollutants of Concern commonly identified in waterways:

  • Nitrogen & Phosphorus: Nutrients picked up in stormwater and carried to local waters. Excess nutrients cause algae blooms (also hazardous ones) and severe cases of hypoxia (low oxygen). Sources include Fertilizer, Natural Pollution (Leaf & Grass Clippings, Yard Waste), Pet Waste, Phosphorus in Cleaners (especially car wash), and SSO overflows during heavy rainfall with Nitrogen/Phosphorus release to local waterbody (Nitrogen and Phosphorus are a human waste product too).
  • Pathogens: from improper disposal of pet waste, trash, and from leaky septics that wash pathogens to storm drains & local waterbodies when it rains. Washing grease down the drain and flushing wipes can lead to sewer overflows during rainstorms that flow or infiltration into local waters or even worse- directly into your home or business!
  • Floatables & Trash Accumulation: Improper disposal of trash that clogs storm drains and flushes to waterbodies promoting flooding, pathogens, impairment, etc.
  • Sediment: The loose sand, clay, silt and other particles of soil that flush into waters particularly during rain storms, covering and smothering aquatic life, and causing sedimentation in waterways. Sediment also has nutrients which cause algae blooms.

    Click here for additional cited works & resources.


Jennifer Zunino-Smith
Environmental Resource Educator
(845) 429-7085 x125

Last updated September 16, 2021