Illicit Discharge

Oil on a roadIllicit discharge is the disposal or discharge of pollutants and non-storm water materials into a storm sewer system via surface flow, direct dumping into the storm sewer or water body, or through illegal connections to the County storm sewer system.

Ramsey County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) is not designed to remove most pollutants, so dumping into the MS4 ultimately ends up in our natural waters.

Report illicit discharge

Types of illicit discharges

  • Improper disposal of auto and household chemicals
  • Illicit discharge in the woodsSpills from roadway accidents or vehicle leaks
  • Improper disposal of yard and pet wastes
  • Construction site sediment
  • Drilling operation waste
  • Laundry and car wash water
  • Septic tank discharge and sanitary wastewater
  • Chlorinated pool water 

What to look for

  • Persons dumping liquids, animal waste, leaves, grass clippings, or anything unidentifiable into a storm drain.
  • Unusual colors or odors in the surface water.
  • Stains, unusual odors, or structural damage to street surfaces.
  • Dead or distressed fish, plants, or other wildlife near surface water.
  • Abnormal vegetative growth in water bodies.
  • Sediment accumulation in water bodies.
  • Pipes with flowing water during a dry period.

Acceptable discharges 

  • Clean water discharges including water line flushing.
  • Air conditioning condensation.
  • Irrigation water, sump pump and lawn watering discharge.
  • Individual residential car wash water.
  • De-chlorinated swimming pool water.
  • Discharges or flow from firefighting and other activities necessary to protect public health and safety.
  • Normal rainfall.

What Ramsey County is doing

  • Ramsey County has an Illicit Discharge Ordinance giving the County the authority to regulate illicit discharges to the County MS4. (Add link or ordinance text)
  • Annual inspections of at least 20% of the County’s MS4 discharge points.
  • Annual training of Ramsey County staff in the identification of illicit discharges and construction site stormwater management.

How to help

  • Never dump anything into a storm sewer or storm drain.
  • Dispose of waste properly by checking the A to Z Recycling and Disposal Guide.
  • Wash your car on your lawn or at a commercial car wash.

For large or hazardous spills, contact the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department at 651-484-3366.