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 collectiong water samples
Collecting water samples

weather screening
Dry Weather Screening

overflowing manhole cover
Overflowing Manhole Cover

The joint National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that was issued to Harris County, Harris County Flood Control (HCFC), The City of Houston, and The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on October 1, 1998 requires monitoring of rainwater run-off. The Pollution Control Services Department performs sampling to fulfill requirements of this permit.

This section collects representative monitoring samples from different sites located throughout Harris County. These sites are selected on the basis of their surrounding land use, and they are monitored during rainfall events to characterize the quality of rainwater run-off.

In addition to our existing program to eliminate illicit connections, this section monitors numerous points of discharge into the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). These sites are monitored during dry and wet weather conditions to locate and eliminate illicit connections.  Inspections are also conducted at industrial facilities that are required to have permit coverage for storm water run-off and at commercial facilities believed to adding significant pollutants to the MS4.

The Harris County Regulations for Storm Water Quality Management and The City of Houston Ordinance became effective October 1, 2001 and can be found here under the heading, "Professional."  The current version of the Harris County Regulations are also located at Harris County Engineering.

 storm water quality

Another aspect of the Storm Water Program is the prevention of pollutants at home. To learn more about House Hazardous Waste, go to  HHW General FAQs or to http://www.earth911.org/master.asp
Visit Clean Water Clear Choice for more information about Storm Water. 




Sizing and Servicing Requirements for Grease Traps

Harris County's Recommendations 

The sizing requirements for grease traps that are part of an onsite sewage facility fall under the jurisdiction of Harris County for regulation as an authorized agent of the State under the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  These requirements shall continue to follow County regulation. 

The sizing requirements for grease traps that are part of an outfall into a public sewer system typically do not fall under Harris County’s jurisdiction, but rather that of the sewer system’s owner, like a Municipal Utility District.  Therefore Harris County does not require, but rather recommends:

·         Sizing be consistent with the City of Houston requirements.  Those requirements currently state that grease traps and interceptors shall be sized according to the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), Chapter 10.

·         Servicing requirements: Grease traps shall be cleaned every 90 days, or more frequently if the operating capacity is more than 25% full of solids and/or Fats, Oils, and Grease.



What is storm water?

Storm water is water from precipitation that flows across the pavement when it rains, then drains into storm sewers found at street corners or the low points on the sides of city streets. Unlike the water that we use in our homes, storm water receives no treatment. 

What is the purpose of a storm drain system?

Its purpose is to prevent flooding of streets and highways by quickly and efficiently transferring rainwater into our bayous, creeks, rivers and Galveston Bay.

What's the difference between a storm water drainage system and a sewer system?

The sanitary sewer system collects household wastewater from toilets, showers and sinks. The wastewater is sent to a facility where it is first treated before discharging to a stream or bayou. In contrast, storm water is not usually treated and may carry contaminants directly into our waterways.

Where does storm water go after it drains into a storm drain?

Storm water that enters the storm drains flows untreated into our channels, bayous and rivers before it goes to Galveston Bay.

What contributes to storm water pollution?

Anything that is thrown into a storm drain or that is left on the street and is picked up by storm water contributes to storm water pollution. More specifically, pollutants include car oil, pesticides, fertilizers, animal droppings, trash, food wastes, automotive by-products and other toxic substances. Industrial and commercial activities with uncovered outdoor storage or process areas, loading docks and equipment maintenance and washing areas may also contribute pollutants to urban runoff.

What can you put down the storm drain?

Local ordinances and regulations prohibit anything other than uncontaminated rainwater from entering the storm drain system.

What about yard trimmings and soil? They can't harm storm water can they?

Even though yard trimmings and soil are natural debris, when put in the storm drain they flow to our bayous, rivers and Galveston Bay where they can ruin the natural balance of the ocean and harm fish.

What can I do to help?

There are a lot of easy ways to help keep our water clean, such as:                                            

  • Pick up after your pets and properly dispose of their waste in the trash.
  • Never pour pesticides, household paints, chemicals and motor oil on the ground or down a storm drain.
  • Take household toxic products to hazardous waste facilities.
  • Don't over water or over fertilize your lawn. Use natural products when possible.
  • Wash your vehicle on your lawn instead of your driveway or street. Don't worry it won't hurt your lawn!
  • Visit www.cleanwaterclearchoice.org or call 713-290-3000 to see what community projects you can get involved with to help with this issue

What do I do if I see someone dumping into a storm drain?

Call 3-1-1, the Anonymous City of Houston Neighborhood Protection Complaint line. Or call the City of Houston Environmental Health Info. Line and Industrial Discharges at 713-640-4399. Or call Harris County Pollution Control Services Department at 713-920-2831.

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