The City is recognized for its beautiful natural areas, including the presence of Cayuga Lake, gorges, streams, and inlets, and the many hills that send runoff into the City. While residents and visitors alike enjoy this geography, it makes stormwater management both especially important and difficult. For example, flood control (including issues such as the ice jams of January 2014 and the Flood Control Channel dredging that the City has been pursuing for years) is a major stormwater management issue in the City. As a result, each year the City spends the better part of a million dollars on stormwater-related expenses, such as construction and maintenance of storm sewers and channeled streams, environmental management, and regulatory compliance.
As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports pollutants to surface waters. Although the amount of pollutants from a single residential, commercial, industrial or construction site may seem unimportant, the combined concentrations of contaminants threaten our lakes, rivers, wetlands and other water bodies. Pollution conveyed by stormwater degrades the quality of drinking water, damages fisheries and habitat of plants and animals that depend on clean water for survival. Pollutants carried by stormwater can also affect recreational uses of water bodies by making them unsafe for wading, swimming, boating and fishing. According to an inventory conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), half of the impaired waterways are affected by urban/suburban and construction sources of stormwater runoff. (http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8468.html.)