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Stormwater Quality Q&As

Stormwater runoff is the rain, snow, hail or other precipitation that falls from the sky and flows over the ground rather than infiltrating into the soil. Before buildings, roads, parking lots and other impervious surfaces were built rain could soak into the ground and the amount that ran off to streams was much less.

Stream Smart No DumpingStormwater runoff does not go to a sanitary sewer treatment plant. In a typical urban environment, Stormwater flows across rooftops, lawns, driveways and streets. Along the way the water picks up a variety of pollutants including oil, grease, yard chemicals, pet waste, silt, and debris. It then enters storm sewer catch basins and piping or ditches, from which it dumps into local creeks, Bear Creek, the Rogue River, and finally the Pacific Ocean without going through a treatment plant. To help promote the fact that Stormwater is not treated, RVSS has worked with its jurisdictions to make sure all storm drains are stamped or labeled “No Dumping, drains to stream”.

If you see something other than stormwater entering a storm drain, please let us know as soon as possible! Our crews are out and about every day, but we can’t be everywhere at once, so we rely on citizens to inform us of problems in their area.

Hotline Numbers:
Phoenix , Talent, White City, and Unincorporated Jackson County--541-779-4186
City of Medford--541-774-2600
City of Ashland--541-552-2419
City of Central Point 541-664-7602 or 541-423-1031 if after hours: 541-326-3682

Under the Federal Clean Water Act local municipalities are responsible for the quality of the water discharged from their storm drains in waterways. Stormwater quality is regulated at the local level through the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. There are two levels of these permits: Phase I is for large cities and Phase II is for small cities. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued Phase II permits to cities in the Rogue Valley in 2007.  Prior to permit issuance, the communities went through an extensive process with nationally recognized consultants, public meetings, and local agencies to determine the most cost-effective manner to implement the permit requirements. At the end of the process it was decided that jointly running the stormwater quality program through a single entity would be most cost effective, since RVSS already jointly provided sanitary sewer service it made sense for us to provide the stormwater quality program as well. RVSS now holds the permit and manages the program for the cities of Phoenix, Talent, and unincorporated, urbanized Jackson County.

RVSS manages the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Phase II Permit for the Cities of Phoenix , and Talent and portions of Jackson County. For a map of RVSS' Stormwater boundary visit the Maps page. The permit program has six areas of focus: public education, public involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction, post-construction and municipal operations. RVSS is responsible for all but the Municipal operations. Each city and Jackson County are responsible for the municipal operations portion of the permit, which means they clean and maintain their Stormwater drainage systems and manage the quantity of Stormwater in their communities.

Construction activity, including clearing, grading, excavating, backfilling, and stockpiling, is also regulated under the Federal Clean Water Act as it has the potential to affect Stormwater quality. Projects that disturb 1 to 5 acres must obtain an RVSS Construction Permit. Construction projects that disturb 5 acres or more must obtain a 1200C Construction General Permit through RVSS. Visit the Rogue Valley Stormwater Quality Design Manual page to learn more.

No. Each of these cities hold their own Phase II permits from Oregon DEQ and are responsible for running their own Stormwater quality programs.

Green infrastructure (GI) is a term that has evolved, originally referring to a strategic landscape approach to using open space for environmental, social, and economic benefits. GI now more often refers specifically to an approach for managing Stormwater runoff that relies on using natural processes in the soil and vegetation to infiltrate, evapotranspirate and/or harvest Stormwater runoff. Rain gardens, bioswales, and pervious paving are all examples of green infrastructure.

Low Impact Development is a design strategy that attempts to maintain the natural hydrology of a site after development, this means that rain is allowed to soak into the ground close to where it falls. This differs from traditional Stormwater management in which runoff is directed to catch basins and underground pipes that empty directly into our creeks. With traditional gray infrastructure large volumes of Stormwater runoff are dumped into our creeks often resulting in erosion of stream banks and scouring of stream beds. LID helps to decrease the volume of water flowing to creeks by allowing it to infiltrate into the ground at the same rate that happened prior to development. LID strategies often rely on Green Infrastructure for Stormwater infiltration.