Stormwater Program

Storm DrainThe goal of Columbia's Stormwater Program is to protect water quality by preventing pollution, to provide education on the importance of water quality to the environment and the public health, and to promote public involvement in the stewardship of the local waterways. Stormwater is water from precipitation that travels across the ground and pavement and flows untreated directly into local creeks, streams and rivers.

Stormwater Program Areas

  • Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Permanent Stormwater Runoff Control
  • Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Public Involvement and Participation

Effects of Stormwater Pollution

  • Sediment and Debris Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people.
  • Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grown. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats. Sediment is the Number 1 cause of stream impairment in the State of Tennessee.
  • Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can't exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
  • Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards.
  • Debris - plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts - washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds. Debris can also be hazardous to humans during the recreational use of streams and other water bodies.
  • Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
  • Polluted stormwater often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.

How You Can Help

  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash where the dirty water is discharged into the sewer system or wash your car on grassy areas where the dirty water will be absorbed rather than run off into the storm drain.
  • Compost yard waste such as leaves and grass clippings. Don't dump them in ditches and waterways where they can clog pipes and cause flooding.
  • Direct downspouts onto lawns and away from paved surfaces. Consider use of rain barrels to save rain water for later use in your lawn or garden.
  • Follow direction on fertilizer labels and sweep excess off of driveways sidewalks and roads so that the chemicals stay where they were intended and are not washed into storm drains.
  • Pick up after your pet. Don't let pet waste wash into storm drains or drainage ditches.
  • Check your car for leaks and recycle used motor oil. Never pour motor oil on the ground, into a storm drain, or drainage ditch.
  • Only Rain Down the Drain! Never put any kind of waste into storm drains or drainage ditches.

Education and Outreach

Public Education and Outreach is important part of the Stormwater Program. It provides the opportunity to change the way the public views stormwater and educate them on its importance to our long-term welfare and economic potential.

If you would like to have our Stormwater Coordinator visit your group or work with you on a project, please contact the Engineering Division or Email Douglas Toney

Illicit Discharches

llicit discharges are generally any discharge into the municipal storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater.

To report an Illicit Discharge please Email Development Services or call at 931-560-1560 or you may fill out the Illicit Discharge Report Form.


  • Automotive and mechanical fluids
  • Car wash wastewater
  • Carpet cleaning wastewater
  • Cooking oils
  • Effluent from septic tanks
  • Improper disposal of auto and household toxics
  • Laundry wastewater/gray water
  • Litter
  • Spills from roadway crashes
  • Wastewater or sewer


  • Air conditioning condensation
  • Any other uncontaminated water source
  • Crawl space pumps
  • Diverted stream flows
  • Firefighting activities
  • Foundation or footing drains
  • Groundwater infiltration to storm drains
  • Landscape irrigation or lawn watering with potable water
  • Natural riparian habitat or wetland flows
  • Non-commercial washin of vehicles
  • Pumped groundwater
  • Rising groundwater
  • Springs
  • Swimming pools (if dechlorinated, typically less than one PPM chlorine)
  • Water line flushing or other potable water sources

Annual Reports

The City of Columbia publishes its annual report to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation as part of our Municipal Stormwater Sewer System permit.

View Stormwater Program Annual Reports