An image of a pile of leaves and text that reads "Raking leaves this fall? Leaves don't belong in the street"What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is the water that flows over the ground after it rains, snows, or sleets. It can become polluted as it runs over hard surfaces and flows downstream.

All stormwater runoff eventually enters the river. Along the way it may flow along curbs, into storm drains, through pipes, into ditches, and into streams. The City storm system discharges to the river system at dozens of locations.

Stormwater Collection

The city’s stormwater conveyance system is the private and public drainage facilities other than sanitary sewers with the City of Lawrence by which urban run-off may be conveyed to receiving waters, such as the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers.

It includes but is not limited to: roads, streets, constructed channels, aqueducts, storm drains, pipes, street gutters, inlets to storm drains or pipes, and catch basins. 

Lawrence’s MS4 Stormwater Permit

Lawrence’s 2019-2024 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Stormwater Permit is issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and authorizes the City to discharge stormwater from our municipal storm sewer system to the waters of the State. The permit outlines the requirements for implementation of the six minimum control measures the City needs to meet in order to help conserve and protect its stormwater resources. It covers activities such as public outreach, spill investigations and responses, and construction site design standards and practices, and monitoring of pollutant levels in our discharging streams.

Stormwater Management Plan

The Stormwater Management Plan for Lawrence, KS provides more detailed information about how the City intends to comply with its permit responsibilities, including a list of specific programs, measurable goals, and schedules. The plan may be updated on a yearly basis. The plan below was created in compliance with Lawrence’s current NPDES MS4 permit, issued by KDHE, and covers activities from 2019 through 2024.

Stormwater Management Master Plan

The Stormwater Management Master Plan was completed in 1996 by Burns and McDonnell, consulting engineers. This plan contains recommendations for storm sewer improvements, engineering standards, maintenance work and program funding.

Additional Documentation:

Stormwater Pollution Prevention

Why is stormwater pollution an issue?

Urban areas produce high concentrations of pollutants that are carried to the river by stormwater runoff. Examples include:

  • Vehicles (oil, gas, antifreeze, heavy metals, salt and litter)
  • Homes and businesses (fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, yard waste, chemicals, trash and debris)
  • Construction sites (soil sediment, trash and debris)

These pollutants are washed into the drainage system and discharged to our streams and rivers. This changes the physical, biological and chemical composition of the water, resulting in an unhealthy environment for aquatic organisms, wildlife and humans. Sediment and debris can also lead to increased flooding.

What can I do to reduce stormwater pollution?

Everything that winds up on the ground is likely to enter the drainage system. Our individual choices play a huge role in how much pollution we generate. Starting at your doorstep, think of everything that you do that adds pollution to stormwater, and then try to think of solutions. Here are some easy examples:

  • Don’t litter.
  • Contain your curbside trash so that it won’t leak, fall over or blow around.
  • Take a walk to pick up litter and debris before it rains.
  • Sweep your garage and driveway into a dustpan rather than into the street.
  • Don’t pitch cigarettes out the car window.
  • Repair vehicle or equipment leaks.
  • Wash your car in the grass or in a covered carwash station.
  • Take all of your unwanted paint, chemicals, cleaners, fuels, pesticides and hazardous waste to the Lawrence/Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Facility.
  • If you choose to use lawn chemicals, don’t over-apply.
  • Don’t over-water your lawn.
  • Clean up after your pet before it rains.
  • Don’t dump anything except water into a storm drain.

What is an illicit discharge?

To report an illicit discharge into the City stormwater system, please call 785-832-7800.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, “An illicit discharge is defined as any discharge to a municipal separate storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater”. City of Lawrence Code 9-902 A(1) lists common stormwater contaminants as “trash, yard waste, lawn chemicals, pet waste, wastewater, oil, petroleum products, cleaning products, paint products, hazardous waste and sediment.”For more information on stormwater pollution and managing waste materials, call the Municipal Services & Operations Department at 785-832-7800.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued regulations in 1999 that require the City of Lawrence to comply with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater program.

The City of Lawrence Code was updated in 2001 to require landowners and citizens to use better practices to prevent pollution of streams, lakes, rivers and groundwater.

Resident Information

Yard Waste and Leaves

Streets are part of the City of Lawrence stormwater collection system. Leaves left along the curb are unable to be picked up by street sweepers and can enter storm drains, increasing the risk of localized flooding and adding pollutants to the receiving streams and rivers.

Four Easy Ways to Handle Your Leaves & Lawn Trimmings:

Yard Waste & Leaves Documents:

Household Hazardous Waste

Household Hazardous Waste represents a wide variety of wastes that are produced as a result of normal household activities. Among the most common of these are pesticides, paints, solvents, automotive fluids, batteries, chemicals and cleaners.

Each of these products may pose a threat to sanitation workers or public health and the environment when improperly handled or disposed of.

Other Resident Information

Technical Information

Frequently Asked Questions