Stormwater Division

Illicit Discharge

If you see an illicit discharge: If it is a HAZARDOUS SPILL call 911
If it is non-hazardous, contact the Stormwater Division at 719-276-5265.

What is an Illicit Discharge?
An illicit discharge is any discharge to the storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater and is not a discharge that is authorized by a permit issued by the State of Colorado.  The storm sewer system includes roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels and storm drains.  It can be either an enclosed pipe or an open channel.  The City of Cañon City is required by its State permit to develop, implement and enforce a program to detect and eliminate illicit discharges. (Ordinance No. 20 – 2005)

Illicit discharges may enter the storm sewer system either through direct connections (i.e. wastewater piping mistakenly or deliberately connected to the storm sewer) or indirect connections. Indirect connections can include leaks from sanitary systems, spills which are collected by storm drains, or materials such as paint or used oil dumped directly into a storm drain.

Drainage channels and ditches are considered part of the storm sewer system - dumping trash in them can be considered an illicit discharge.

Not all water coming from a storm drain pipe during dry weather is an illicit discharge.  Field testing is needed to determine the source.

Water quality testing is done by department staff on all dry weather flows.  If the flow is determined to be an illicit discharge it is traced to its source and appropriate action is taken.

Some Potential Sources of Illicit Discharges

Sanitary wastewater sources:

  • Sanitary wastewater from improper sanitary sewer connections
  • Leaking sanitary sewer pipes
  • Overflows of sanitary sewer systems
  • Overflows from improperly operating or designed septic tank system

Automobile maintenance and operation sources:

  • Wastewater from commercial car washes
  • Radiator flushing
  • Engine degreasing
  • Improper disposal of used oil, antifreeze and other automotive fluids
  • Leaky underground storage tanks
  • Leaking automotive fluids

Landscaping/yard and home maintenance sources:

  • Over spraying of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides which land on impervious surfaces
  • Over-application of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides onto landscaping
  • Improper disposal of household chemicals and home maintenance materials such as paint
  • Landscaping materials, sediment, lawn clippings, leaves and branches

Other sources:

  • Spills onto the roadway and accidents
  • Overflowing garbage dumpsters and litter
  • Pet and livestock waste
  • Construction waste, concrete washouts, construction site dewatering
  • Contaminated ground water
  • Metals
  • Uncontained power washing of parking lots and buildings
  • Root growth inhibitor added to a storm drain
  • Any material considered harmful to humans, animals or aquatic life or its habitat

Low-risk discharges which do not require a State permit. These discharges will not be enforced upon unless they pose a significant risk to water quality.

  • Landscape irrigation and lawn watering
  • Diverted stream flows
  • Springs, flows from riparian habitats and wetlands and rising ground waters
  • Irrigation return flows
  • Uncontaminated groundwater infiltration and uncontaminated pumped groundwater except that from construction activities
  • Water line flushing
  • Discharges from potable water sources as long as it has not been used in any additional process
  • Foundation, footing and roof drains
  • Air conditioning condensation
  • Water from crawl space pumps as long as it is uncontaminated
  • Individual residential car washing
  • Dechlorinated swimming pool and hot tub discharges
  • Water incidental to street sweeping
  • Dye testing
  • Water from emergency fire-fighting activities
  • Agricultural stormwater runoff

More Information