The Village of Whitefish Bay discharges storm water from its municipal separate storm sewer system under permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The system is fully urbanized, meaning collected runoff water deposits into the storm sewer, which in turn discharges, directly to Lake Michigan or the Milwaukee River. Although the Village conducts street sweeping and cleans street inlets and catch basins to remove sediments and some organic material before it can be conveyed to waterways, pollutants still enter the waterways. The primary pollutants found in an urbanized setting are:
- Sediment from construction sites or landscaping activities, transportation related debris, and industrial fallout.
- Nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen, which come from over application or abuse of fertilizers, and organic material on roadways.
- Oxygen demanding material such as pet waste, leaves, grass clippings, and litter. As these materials decay, they use oxygen needed for aquatic life.
- Bacteria in runoff are generally sourced from pets, urban wildlife, and illicit sanitary connections or other discharges.
- Toxic pollutants such as metals, pesticides, and petroleum compounds or their byproducts. Zinc is a common metal that can be traced to rooftops, gutters, and downspouts that are galvanized to prevent corrosion. Metals can also be traced to vehicle traffic deposits, which can contain zinc, cadmium, copper and lead.
- Take household hazardous materials such as motor oil, antifreeze, oil base painters and thinners, and pesticides to the Household Hazardous Waste sites. (Refer to the Village’s website for information on collection locations).
- Use kitty litter or other absorbent materials to clean spills. Sweep it up and put it in a sturdy garbage bag and put with your garbage.
- Water base paints should be dried out completely by opening the can and putting kitty litter in the can. Leave it to dry out for several days, put the can in a sturdy plastic garbage bag and leave with your garbage.
- Use a broom - rather than a garden hose to remove soil and debris from paved surfaces. Put the debris from the broom in a bag and put with your garbage.
- Use lawn fertilizers and herbicides sparingly or test soil to determine need. Mulching clippings may provide all the nutrients needed. Choose or request fertilizers with no phosphorus. Sweep and collect any over application left on walks and drives.
- Pick-up pet waste and put it in the garbage or bury. Please do not dispose of pet waste in the street inlets. Each year the Village removes significant volumes of pet waste from the storm sewer, often still in the plastic bag used to collect it.
- Except for leaves to be collected, it is unlawful to deposit any material in the street even temporarily. This includes stone, sand, mulch and soil. This material should be placed on lawn surfaces or at a minimum - on a flat portion of your driveway.