Illicit Discharges

What is an Illicit Discharge or Connection?

An illicit discharge is any discharge to the storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of rainwater or groundwater. Examples include the dumping of motor vehicle fluids, household hazardous wastes, grass clippings, leaf litter, industrial waste, restaurant wastes, or any other non-stormwater waste into a stormwater system. An illicit connection is the discharge of pollutants or non-stormwater materials into a storm sewer system via a pipe or other direct connection. Sources of illicit connections may include sanitary sewer taps, wash water for laundromats or car washes, and other similar sources.

How Do I Identify an Illicit Discharge or Connection?

  • Look for makeshift pipes or hoses that lead to a storm drain or body of water.
  • Watch for stains, unusual odors, structural damage to streets or gutters, and abnormal vegetative growth in nearby lakes and streams.
  • If you see an illicit discharge or connection, report it to your community. The Illicit Discharge and Connection Ordinance, adopted by your community, give them legal authority to inspect and sample discharge, as well as enforce sanctions for violations.

View MDOT's Illicit Discharge Interactive Demonstration

How Do I Report an Illicit Discharge or Connection?

To report a suspected illicit discharge, please contact the Engineering Programs Coordinator directly at 616-791-6327 or Email Rachell Nagorsen. You can also use the Reporting Brochure.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Program

The Clean Water Act of 1972 set up the NPDES. The NPDES program required communities around the country with urbanized areas to begin tackling the issue of stormwater pollution. In recent years, several communities in Kent and Ottawa Counties were required to develop an illicit discharge elimination program (IDEP). The IDEP was required to include an investigation of the waters of the state to identify, and eventually eliminate, illicit discharges and connections to the storm sewer.