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Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination (IDDE)

What is an illicit discharge?

An illicit discharge is the dumping, discharging, leaking or otherwise releasing of any substance other than groundwater or rainwater to the storm sewer system. When an illicit substance enters the storm sewer, it will eventually be discharged to the environment through a storm sewer outfall. There are storm sewer outfalls present near all types of local water bodies, including creeks, ponds, rivers, and even Lake Erie.

Flow at a storm sewer outfall during dry weather is an indicator that an illicit discharge may be occurring. We partner with the local boards of health to inspect all outfalls within our service area. The boards will collect bacteriological samples at all outfalls with dry weather discharge. Elevated dry weather flows and E. coli density counts are prioritized first for investigation.

Even residents in our service are can report signs of an illicit discharge.

Understanding the role of the Sewer District

Dye testing is a tool we use to track illicit discharges and verify sewer connections.

The Pollution Prevention Group in the Water Quality and Industrial Surveillance (WQIS) Department conducts Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) investigations.

The goal of these investigations is to determine the source of the fecal bacteria or dry weather flow.

IDDE investigations almost always involve collecting water samples and source tracking the flow. IDDE investigations may also involve dye testing and video inspection of the sewer.

What is dye testing and how does it work? Follow our @neorsd Twitter feed for updates when dye tests are conducted in your area like this.

What you can do and how to help

A resident photo of an illicit discharge in Strongsville.

Pay attention to abnormal sights or smells in your local waterbodies. Maybe you notice a sheen in the pond at the park, the creek behind your house is turning milky white, or your favorite swimming spot at the lake smells like a porta-potty. These are all indicators that there may be an illicit discharge present.

Also, if you see someone dumping anything suspicious into a catch basin or a local waterbody, please contact NEORSD to report the incident. If you can take pictures or identify the exact location of the illegal dumping or contaminated water body, these details will help with our investigation.

Helpful Resources:

  • NEORSD Customer Service (216) 881-8247
  • Water Quality & Industrial Surveillance: (216) 641-6000
  • Ohio EPA 24-hour Spill Hotline: (800) 282-9378
  • Follow and message us on Twitter @neorsd