Lake Pend Oreille | Pend Oreille River

What’s in our Stormwater?

Stormwater describes rainfall, snowmelt, and other weather-related water which collects and runs off of hard surfaces like rooftops, parking lots and even sod.

Stormwater is one of the most significant threats to water quality across the nation, simply because it’s easily polluted with litter, debris, sediment and many different types of synthetic chemicals as it runs over hard surfaces. Polluted stormwater collects into the storm drain systems of our local communities, where underground pipes carry this runoff to our local waterways.

Very little is understood about the composition of stormwater in our watershed. Our local stormwater is not currently treated through filtration or other mechanisms, so any harmful substances and materials it picks up along its journey end up in our water, oftentimes in high-use areas like the Sand Creek corridor.

​We proactively address stormwater issues related to growth by monitoring shoreline development projects and reviewing NPDES Construction General Permits in Idaho.

Did you know?

The population size of cities around Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River are not large enough to trigger regulation of stormwater through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting process.

Permitting of stormwater discharges is triggered when a municipal population size reaches 10,000 which then requires cities to take certain actions to protect local waterways from stormwater pollution.

Storm Drain Labeling Program

Dump No Waste – Drains to Lake

We also work to raise community awareness about how stormwater can impact water quality through the “Dump No Waste – Drains to Lake” Storm Drain Labeling Program.

Stormwater Monitoring Program

Stormwater monitoring can be a helpful tool in determining what exactly is in our stormwater and what types of best management practices should be put into place. Since stormwater regulation around our watershed is not yet required, there are no robust monitoring efforts taking place to help shed light on the types of pollutants that are common in our stormwater.

LPOW is the only organization that has begun to study and collect data on the variety of pollutants entering our waterbody.  Sandpoint was historically home to multiple industrial sites that were unregulated for decades. One site in particular, a property site owned by Joslyn Manufacturing Company, applied toxic wood preservative and is currently under court order to mitigate its pollution to groundwater.  To date, all mitigation measures have proven ineffective.

We believe that proactive monitoring of stormwater is needed and will produce meaningful information that can be used to mitigate polluted runoff now and into the future. Our efforts to track stormwater pollution through monitoring are supported by generous community funding and citizen science.

We are currently partnering with the City of Sandpoint to install a demonstration project that will test the efficacy of an innovative stormwater filtration system scheduled to be installed in the spring of 2021.

Get involved today to help us protect our local waterways!

Keeping an eye on stormwater pollution

Keeping an eye on stormwater pollution

Stormwater is one of the most significant threats to water quality across the globe.  Simply put, stormwater is just what it sounds like: water created by a storm which sheets and/or travels to the nearest large body of water, typically a stream, river, lake, or the...

Protect our waterways: Plant a rain garden!

Protect our waterways: Plant a rain garden!

Cover Photo Credit: Rain Dog Designs, Gig Harbor,WA Entering the smoky skies of fire season, rain is a wishful sentiment that will remain evasive in the weeks and months to come. So, while we soak in the hot days and watch the grass in our yards fade to yellows and...

Watch this video to learn about stormwater and strategies used to prevent pollution from entering our waterways.


EPA – Stormwater Pollution
A collection of fact sheets on stormwater impacts to waterways and BMPs for keeping our stormwater as clean as possible.

City of Sandpoint – Downtown Streets Plan & Design Guide
Learn about the City of Sandpoint’s plan to improve stormwater systems in the downtown area to prevent pollution draining to our local waterways. The plan includes vegetated landscaping such as swales, planters, and basins.

Support this Program!

Your generous donations cover the costs of collecting stormwater samples and analyzing what pollutants may be present in each sample.

Become a Citizen Scientist!

Become a trained citizen scientist. Collecting water samples is a great way to enjoy time on the water & get involved in active stewardship of our local waterways!