Frequently Asked Questions about Storm Water Pollution

What is a SWMP Plan?
The storm water drainage system channels water away from our highways and roads to avoid flooding,  discharging the water directly into our streams or the ocean.As a part of the federal Clean Water Act, the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Highways Division has a plan for keeping our storm water as clean as possible. This plan is called a SWMPP which stands for Storm Water Management Program Plan. A copy of this plan can be downloaded on our site. It addresses how HDOT does its work, what it requires of work done on and around state roads, and ways of educating all of us in better storm water practices. The Oahu SWMP Plan is full of technical jargon. The Definitions List will help you to understand what storm water is all about. 
Is the storm drain system the same as the sewer system?
No, they are two separate systems. Wastewater from our homes and businesses flows through the sanitary sewer system to wastewater treatment facilities where it is treated before it is discharged into the ocean. The storm water drainage system channels water away from our highways and roads to avoid flooding, but it doesn’t carry water to a treatment facility. That’s right – it’s untreated! The water flows through the drainage system pipes and is discharged into our streams or directly to the ocean.
Why is it important to know about storm water issues?
The storm water drainage system channels water away from our highways and roads to avoid flooding,  discharging the water directly into our streams or the ocean.The storm water drainage system along our roads and highways is designed to carry water quickly off the roadway and safely away. This means that any pollutants that are swept up in the storm water are carried directly to the ocean, polluting our waters. That’s why we all need to be aware of storm water issues and do our part to keep pollutants out of the storm drains.

What is a “pollutant”?
Properly dispose of extra paint cans, which rust and leak, to prevent storm water pollution.Some pollutants are more obvious than others. Things like oil, paint, and other chemicals can make our streams and beaches unpleasant and even dangerous for fish, coral and us. Litter, like fast food containers and water bottles, is easily carried into and through the storm drain system. Did you know that lawn fertilizer, car wash detergent, and even soil are pollutants too? Excess fertilizers can cause algae blooms that use up all the oxygen in the water killing other aquatic life. Detergents can kill sea life as well. Topsoil carried into the ocean by storm water can limit sunlight penetration, coat our reefs with sediment, and end up killing fish and coral.
What can I do about storm water pollution?
There’s much that we can all do to keep Hawaii beautiful and our oceans healthy. This site includes helpful tips for household activities, remodeling, gardening, car care, agriculture and household waste. There are also helpful resources for businesses as well as design consultants and contractors. You can also get a group together and adopt a section of highway with the Adopt-A-Highway program.
Can I dump anything into the storm drains?
The only thing legally allowed to go into the storm drain is rainwater. It is not legal to direct run-off from your business or home into the state storm drain system without a permit. Dumping things like trash, oil, paint or even grass clippings into a storm drain pollutes our streams and ocean. That’s why it’s against the law. If you observe illegal dumping of waste into the storm drain system on a state highway, you can report it by calling (808) 831-6714 or via our Report Violation Form. If you feel that it is necessary to discharge into the State system either on a one time basis or on an on-going basis, you must apply for and receive a permit from HDOT. The permit can be downloaded from our site (pdf 28KB).
How can I get more information or report a problem?
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