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Community Planning>Storm Water Program>Illicit Discharge Elimination Program

The IDEP Program

The goal of the Illicit Discharge Elimination Program (IDEP) is to identify and eliminate sources of E. coli bacteria by collecting and testing water samples from our creeks, streams, rivers, road ditches, and drains.


What is an Illicit Discharge?
An illicit discharge is the release of wastewater or pollution entering a storm drain, waterway or ditch, such as:

• Failing septic systems
• Illegal dumping of oil or grass clippings
• Washing machine and dish washing water
• Sanitary sewer connected to a storm drain system
• Commercial or industrial chemical discharge, disposal or dumping


Why are illicit discharges a problem?
Illicit discharges contaminate our water with chemicals, diseases and bacteria that harm fish, wildlife and people. Many children like to play in small creeks and streams where many illicit discharges begin and the public swims at beaches where illicit discharges  accumulate. Discharges are most problematic during and after a rainstorm commonly leading to summertime beach closures.


How is St. Clair County finding illicit discharges?
Once a suspicious problem is discovered, our Environmental Health Sanitarians take a photograph, take a GPS point, and test for E. coli. Once the source of the problem is pinpointed, the resident is notified as to what actions they need to take in order to correct the problem.


Who is responsible for correction of illicit discharges?
Responsibility for fixing illicit discharges may fall upon a city or township, the county or a resident. The St. Clair County Health Department has the responsibility and authority to ensure that corrections are made through the Environmental Health Code and the Drain Code, which make these discharges illegal.


See photographs below for examples of illicit discharges (failing septic systems, grass clippings, leaves, oil, etc) identified by our IDEP teams.


Laundry suds



 Grass clippings


This page last updated on 9/30/2015.

St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission

200 Grand River, Suite 202 | Port Huron, MI | 48060 | 810.989.6950