Stormwater Quality Management Committee
Clark County Regional Flood Control District
600 S. Grand Central Pkwy. Las Vegas, NV 89106

What is Stormwater Pollution?

Most of our rainwater travels through gutters, storm drains, channels, washes and eventually into the major source of our drinking water, Lake Mead. The largest source of stormwater pollution in Southern Nevada results from every day activities. The most common pollutants are:

  • Trash (fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts, styrofoam cups, etc.)
  • Toxins (used motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizer, pesticides, sewage overflow, pet droppings, etc.)

These pollutants are picked up as water (from rain, hoses, sprinklers, etc.) drains from streets, parking lots, and lawns to the storm drain system made up of over the 66,000 catch basins, pipes, and open channels throughout Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. Polluted urban runoff entering the storm drain system is conveyed straight to the Las Vegas Wash untreated.

Basically, anything dumped or dropped on the ground or in the gutter contributes to stormwater pollution.

Is Stormwater Treated Before Entering Lake Mead?

No. During a storm event, water runoff is carried by the Las Vegas storm drain system directly into the Las Vegas Wash, which drains to Lake Mead. Contaminated stormwater receives no treatment because of the sheer volume of runoff from an area encompassing 1,600 square miles. The cost of treating Clark County's stormwater would be so high that it would exceed available resources.

Is There a Difference Between a Storm Sewer and a Sanitary Sewer?

Yes. The sanitary sewer and the storm sewer are two completely separate drainage systems.

The sewer system, or sanitary wastewater system, takes all household wastewater from toilets, showers and sinks, and routes it through your plumbing system into the one of three water treatment facilities in the Las Vegas Valley. Once there, it receives three levels of filtration treatment before being discharged into the Las Vegas Wash and eventually Lake Mead.

The stormwater system, on the other hand, was intended to route rainwater quickly off the streets during a heavy storm, but unfortunately takes all urban runoff along with it. Chemicals, trash and debris from lawns, parking lots and streets, either intentionally or accidentally spilled, goes straight into the Las Vegas Wash.

Learn more about the differences between the storm sewer and the sanitary sewer.

What Are the Effects of Stormwater Pollution?

Health: Stormwater pollution can pose a serious health risk to people due to pesticides, bacteria, and chemicals that are washed from our city streets and into the stormwater.

Environment: Countless marine plants and animals living in the Las Vegas Wash or Lake Mead may become sick or die from contact with stormwater pollution.

Neighborhoods: Clogged catch basins significantly decrease the quality of life in many neighborhoods throughout Clark County. These "nests" of trash and debris can attract rats and cockroaches, create foul odors, and clog the storm drain system affecting neighborhood aesthetics and property values, and may cause local flooding.

Back to top


Search | Weather | Contact Us | Home

About SQMC | What is Stormwater Pollution? | The Storm Drain System
Community Programs | Monitoring Programs | Best Management Practices
Federal & State Regulations | Brochures & Multimedia | Awards & Recognition
Stormwater Links

Copyright © 2012 SQMC. All rights reserved. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
Neither the Stormwater Quality Management Committee nor the Clark County Regional Flood Control District
is liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided through this website.