We know that allowing debris, chemicals, and other pollutants into our storm water system will have terrible repercussions for our water sources. But what is the real danger inherent in these storm water pollutants? The Ocean Conservancy provides this look:
TOXIC CHEMICALS such as motor oil, antifreeze, and pesticides kill fish and birds, and can even hinder their ability to reproduce. Such chemicals can settle into the waters of rivers, bays, and the ocean, and remain there for decades, gradually choking the life out of aquatic ecosystems.
FERTILIZERS are made up primarily of nitrogen and phosphorus, which in large amounts can wreak havoc on water sources. Many rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water suffer huge algal blooms, fed by these chemicals, that kill vast amounts of fish and other wildlife. An extreme example is a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by fertilizers from Midwestern farms flowing into the Mississippi River. This area is now devoid of most marine life.
DEBRIS AND LITTER are also huge environmental problems for the storm drain system. Plastics can strangle and choke sea turtles, fish, and marine birds. Scientists estimate that a million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals and reptiles die each year from having ingested or becoming entangled in man-made debris.