Stormwater | MS4

City of Defiance Stormwater Program

The three rivers of Defiance are a vital asset; providing drinking water, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. The Maumee River Watershed is the largest in the Great Lakes system, covering more than 8300 square miles in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. The Maumee River is formed in Ft. Wayne by the St. Joseph and St. Marys Rivers, flowing in a northeasterly direction through Defiance where it is joined by the Tiffin and Auglaize Rivers before arriving in Toledo where it empties into Maumee Bay and Lake Erie. Read more about the Maumee Watershed — article published in Buckeye Bulletin.

Urbanization within our watershed brings an increase of pavement and rooftops, increasing the stormwater runoff which has a negative impact on the water quality of Lake Erie and also causes rivers to flood more quickly. Stormwater runoff collects dirt, debris, salt and other pollutants as it flows into storm drains that lead directly into our streams and rivers. Pollution and flooding are both reduced when runoff slows down, allowing rainwater to filter through grasses and soil.

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The City of Defiance Stormwater Division is responsible for implementing a Storm Water Management Program (SWMP) in accordance with Ohio EPA NPDES Small MS4 General Permit. A Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) is defined as a publicly-owned system used solely for conveying storm water; including storm drains, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches and man-made channels. The MS4 conveys water directly into surface water, such as rivers and streams.

The purpose of the Ohio EPA’s MS4 Program is to regulate sources to protect water quality and to establish a comprehensive storm water management program in each community. In this program, small MS4s like Defiance, have flexibility to determine the best management practices and measurable goals that are most appropriate for their system, based on each of the six minimum control measures described below. The Ohio EPA is the permitting authority for MS4’s that are regulated by the US EPA’s Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act. The objective of the CWA is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources, providing assistance to publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.

Storm Water: A Vital Natural Resource

Our quality of life and health is greatly dependent on the quality of our fresh water. Fish and other wildlife also rely on the responsible stewardship of our natural resources. Activities in our homes, yards and communities have an effect on the quality of our water supplies. A watershed is an area of land which drains to a common basin, such as a stream or river. Surface water, through rain or melting snow, tends to pick up contaminants as it flows untreated through a watershed directly into streams and rivers creating non-point source pollution. Most sources of point-pollution such as factories have been regulated and stormwater is the leading cause of water pollution today. Preventing this stormwater pollution entering our rivers and streams is of critical importance to our community and our habitats. Everyone can make small changes that will make a big difference!

What You Can Do To Prevent Stormwater Pollution

Family lying on green grass

Choose Native Plants: Plants native to the Northwest Ohio area thrive in our soil and weather conditions, requiring less water, fertilizer, pesticide and maintenance. Replace a patch of high-maintenance lawn with low-maintenance native perennial plants and replace diseased or problem plants with native varieties. Native plants also attract beneficial insects like lady bugs and lacewings that feed on problem-causing pests.

Pesticides & Fertilizers: Try organic or non-toxic fertilizer as an alternative to chemicals. The runoff of chemicals from fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides is a major cause of non-point source pollution. Follow the instructions carefully, apply only the recommended amount and use these products as sparingly as possible by spot treating problem areas. Soil testing can provide information for proper nutrient application and reduce fertilizer use, reducing pollution and saving money. Check the weather forecast to avoid having to repeat the application.

Lawn Watering & Irrigation: Lawns do better with longer, less frequent watering done in the morning if possible. Using drip irrigation, soaker hoses, and mulch in flower beds helps to reduce water consumption. Rain barrels can be used to collect rainwater and then be used to water garden plants & trees. See below for more details on rainwater collection.

Drainage Ditches: If your home has a drainage ditch or swale, do not fill it in. Do not build anything over it and please keep it free of litter.

Remove Pet Waste From Your Yard: Do not compost pet waste; it is not a good soil amendment. Animal waste contributes to surface and ground water bacteria. For the health and safety of collection crews, place pet waste and kitty litter in a tightly sealed plastic bag or other plastic container and dispose of with your trash.

Disposal of Yard Waste: Dumping yard waste into storm drains or waterways adds excess nutrients to the water. Build healthy soil by recycling organic material for plant growth by using natural compost as opposed to chemical fertilizer. Many gardeners maintain their own compost pile. The City of Defiance also has programs for composting and leaf collection for City residents. More information can be found in this Home Composting Guide or at the City Composting Site.

Woman washing her car in garden without detergents in ecological way.

Car Washing: Wash cars with biodegradable soap on grassy or gravel areas to avoid the soapy runoff from entering the storm drains or use a commercial car wash, where they are required to dispose of the water through the sanitary sewer system, where it will be treated.

Autos & Equipment: Maintain vehicles and other equipment to prevent leaking fluids from washing into stormwater. Absorb leaks on the driveway with sand, sawdust or cat litter, then sweep and place in the trash.

Auto Fluids & Car Batteries: Don’t dump used motor oil or antifreeze into storm drains or dispose of them in them in the landfill. Many auto parts stores have programs to accept used motor oil and used car batteries at their locations.

old paint cans

Household Kitchen Grease: Don’t dump grease into any indoor or outdoor drain. Kitchen grease should be recycled or placed in a sealable container such as a lidded coffee can and thrown in the trash. Grease can create sewer blockages and can cause sewer backups into basements and sewer overflows into waterways.

Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste Properly: Never dump household hazardous waste such as pesticides, fertilizers, paint, used motor oil, antifreeze, solvents or other toxic materials into a storm drain, open waterway or ditch. Storm drains discharge directly to streams without the benefit of treatment, unlike the drains inside homes that connect to the sanitary sewer system. Beyond posing a threat to our health and environment, such dumping is illegal. Some household items contain hazardous materials, such as mercury (in old thermometers), and must be discarded in a responsible manner. For proper household hazardous waste disposal information, call the Defiance County Environmental Services at 419.782.5442.

rain barrel

Collect rainwater for future use: Catch spring and summer showers from rooftops in a rain barrel to water plants on dry summer days. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation in flower and vegetable gardens to allow for deep, infrequent watering. Using rainwater instead of tap water for landscaping is not only free, but it is chlorine-free!

Plant a rain garden: Add landscape interest and reduce the amount of stormwater entering the rivers. Deep rooted native plants arranged in a bowl shaped garden slow and filter rainwater before it enters streams and rivers. Native perennial plants require little maintenance once the garden is established. For detailed information on rain gardens, visit Land to Lake, Explore: Rain Gardens.

Terrace steep slopes: Using landscaped terraces will slow runoff, allowing more water to soak in and reduce soil erosion.

Plant trees and shrubs: The roots hold water in the ground, slowing runoff and soil erosion. Trees can lower air conditioning costs too!

Pave less and landscape more: Pave only the area needed on your property. Landscaped areas absorb water and generate less runoff than hard-surface areas. Green space also provides a natural pollution filtering system.

Stormwater Management Plan

Please submit comments for the Draft Version of the City’s Stormwater Management Plan to Jennifer English, MS4 Coordinator at or in writing, to 631 Perry Street, Defiance, OH 43512.

Land to Lake

Visit Land to Lake for information on Stormwater Management, Urban Forestry, Public Projects and more.

Report Suspected Problems

If you see a potentially hazardous material flowing into a storm sewer, ditch or waterway, immediately contact one of the authorities below:

City of Defiance

Stormwater  419.783.4355

Water Treatment Plant  419.782.1886

Water Pollution Control  419.782.0841

Engineering Division  419.782.2249

Defiance County

Local Emergency Planning Coordinator


Ohio EPA 24-Hour Emergency Response Hotline


polluted shoreline

Please Pick Up Litter

Trash left along our roadways, ditches, streams and riverbanks washes into our waterways through rain and melting snow. Debris can also block drain inlets, preventing efficient drainage. Not only is littering illegal, it is an eyesore which can endanger wildlife and allow stagnant water to breed mosquitoes.

Every Drop Counts

Contact Information:

631 Perry Street
Defiance, Ohio 43512


MS4 Coordinator – Jennifer English