Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

What is an Illicit Discharge?


Illicit means illegal. An illicit discharge is any disposal of any substance other than stormwater into the stormwater system. An illicit connection is any connection of wastewater into the stormwater system. An example of this might be a connection from a bathroom or a washing machine. The accidental spill or leak of an unsafe substance is also an illicit discharge.

How Does That Cause Water Pollution?


The stormwater system collects all the rainwater that runs over hard surfaces, like pavement and rooftops. This stormwater runs along the curb and gutter and then drains into a basin or an inlet. The stormwater and any pollutants it has picked up go to the nearest body of water. Anything that enters the stormwater system besides rainfall is considered an illicit discharge. This violates the City of Durham stormwater ordinance. Water pollution can damage fish and wildlife. It can also make activities such as swimming and fishing unsafe. Keeping pollution out of stormwater protects public health and the environment. 

Examples of Illicit Discharges

  • Paint Spills
  • Soapy Wash Water
  • Gasoline or Oil Spills
  • Sewage
  • Grease
  • Sediment
  • Yard Waste

Exceptions to the Rule

Below are some examples of discharges that are not considered violations of Durham's stormwater ordinance: 

  • Flows from Fire Fighting
  • Dechlorinated Pool Water
  • Residential and Charity Car Washing
Read a breakdown of illicit discharges by sub-watershed.

To report an illicit discharge, call 919-560-SWIM (7946), email [email protected], or submit a report

Did You Know?

According to the City of Durham Stormwater Ordinance, only rain is allowed down the storm drain! Almost everything else is an illicit discharge.

Contact Us

  1. Paul Wiebke
    Assistant Director of Public Works, Stormwater

    Michelle Woolfolk
    Manager, Stormwater Quality

    Stormwater Quality

    101 City Hall Plaza
    Durham, NC 27701

    Phone: (919) 560-4326

    Staff Directory