In order to prevent stormwater pollution, Howard County is mandated by federal law to establish an illicit discharge detection and elimination program. An illicit discharge is defined as any discharge into a municipal separate storm sewer which is not composed entirely of stormwater. The Department of Public Works’ Stormwater Management Division is responsible for managing the program.

paint spill illicit discharge

Preventing Stormwater Pollution

Vehicle Washing

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) requires a permit for the discharge of any quantity of wastewater to ground and surface waters. Vehicle wash water is considered to be wastewater and therefore onsite vehicle washing requires a permit. Companies that perform outdoor vehicle washing have three options for managing the wastewater they generate:

1) Discharge wastewater to the sanitary sewer (please contact the Bureau of Utilities for more information),
2) Contain, collect and transport wash water off-site for appropriate treatment and disposal, or
3) Obtain an MDE discharge permit to discharge to the ground and surface waters

    Please go to the following links below for more information.

    Oil or Iron Floc?

     Is it oil or iron floc?  Iron floc is another name for iron-oxidizing bacteria.  These bacteria are naturally occurring and not dangerous to people or wildlife.  Iron floc can appear orange or as an oily sheen.   To determine whether a sheen is from iron floc or petroleum, break up the sheen with a stick. 

    Iron Floc Petroleum
    iron floc teaser
    petroleum teaser
    sheen easily fractures when poked with a stick sheen swirls and quickly re-forms after being broken apart

    Scrap Tires

    Recycle automobile and truck tires at the Alpha Ridge Landfill. (fee applies for Commercial haulers). Alpha Ridge Landfill does not accept tires on rims, tires over 4' in diameter or over 15" in width. NOTE: Rims can be recycled in the scrap metal container. Limit of 4 tires per year.

    To find other licensed collection sites that collect scrap tires from the general public and which ensure that scrap tires are ultimately recycled, call MDE Scrap Tire Program at 410-537-3314.

    Please call Howard County Environmental Services before bringing tires from community or illegal dumping cleanups to the Alpha Ridge Landfill.

    Illegal dumping of scrap tires is an unfortunate problem that happens within the county. These scrap tire dumps are a fire hazard and lead to pooling of water perfect for mosquito breeding.

    If you want to report illegal tire dumping, contact the Bureau of Environmental Services.

    If you are reporting large illegal tire dumping activities (50 or more tires), please contact MDE.


    Report an Illicit Discharge

    If you see anything other than stormwater flowing onto street surfaces, into streams, or entering the County storm drain system, please report it immediately.

    If this is an emergency that requires immediate response, please call 911.

    Stay Connected!

    Sign up for the County Executive's weekly newsletter and stay up to date on everything Howard County.

    Zip Code