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
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
CDPHE Low-Risk Discharges Guidance
Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination Manual