Storm Sewer & Drainage

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater refers to precipitation from the sky (rain, hail, snow) that falls to the ground. In a natural landscape without development, stormwater is absorbed into the ground.  In contrast, in an urban landscape / developed areas, stormwater falls onto impervious surfaces (surfaces that do not absorb water) such as roads, sidewalks, rooftops, or parking lots and does not infiltrate the ground.  This is often referred to as “stormwater runoff.”

Is a Storm Drain System the same thing as a Sanitary Sewer System?

Sewer systems and storm drain systems are not the same. The water that goes down a sink or toilet flows through a sewer system to a wastewater treatment plant where it is treated and cleaned before it is discharged to a waterbody. Water that flows down a driveway or street and into a gutter goes into a storm drain which goes directly to a natural body of water and is NOT treated.   REMEMBER:  ONLY RAIN DOWN THE DRAIN.

Why is Storm Water Run-Off a Problem?

Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm system or directly to a lake, creek, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the water bodies that we use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation.

Green Infrastructure

Click here to see a locally-produced video that highlights important information about Green Infrastructure and low Impact Development practices that are becoming more prevalent in our coastal area to treat and infiltrate stormwater runoff.  The video also discusses how permeable pavement, a type of green infrastructure, should be maintained. 

Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) and Stormwater Annual Report

 The City of Tybee Island has renewed coverage under the National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit (#GAS000212) on April 12, 2017, as required by provisions of the Georgia Water Quality Control Act and Federal Clean Water Act.  The City’s Permit, which is in effect for 5 years, will expire on April 11, 2027.  

 The City must review and, where needed, revise the City’s existing Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP).  This Plan provides a comprehensive framework for inspecting and maintaining City stormwater infrastructure and details how the City will address water quality issues, enforce stormwater requirements, and educate the public about important stormwater best management practices (BMPs) to reduce stormwater pollution. The City’s SWMP was recently revised and submitted to the GA EPD for review; a copy of this revised submittal can be accessed here.  

Each year, the City submits a Stormwater Annual Report to the Georgia EPD that summarizes the status of the City’s Stormwater Management Program. The City’s most recent Annual Report that was submitted may be viewed here.    

Residents are invited to provide input on both the SWMP and Annual Report documents. If you would like to submit a question or comment to the City about the SWMP or the activities summarized in the City’s Stormwater Annual Report, you may submit them electronically using   this form.

Citizen Concern and/or Complaint

The City of Tybee Island has established procedures for encouraging and addressing citizen complaints about water quality. City Hall and Public Works are responsible for receiving citizen complaint calls, and Public Works is responsible for taking action to address calls. Actions taken by Public Works may include visual inspections, field screening, line televising, and dye testing, or contacting another agency to investigate. The Tybee Island Police Department manages complaint calls after hours and directs the complaint to an on-call operator. Responses to citizen complaints are normally initiated within one business day. Written response is normally achieved within 3 business days. Any required action for repair or maintenance is dependent on the character of the discovery and determination of field conditions.

Submit a Concern and/or Complaint

Hazardous Household Wastes

Did you know the average U.S. household accumulates 20 pounds of Hazardous Household Waste per year. As much as 100 pounds can accumulate in the home, often remaining there until the residents move or do an extensive clean-out. Common Household Hazardous Wastes are; drain openers, oven cleaners, automotive oil and fuel additives, paint thinners, paint strippers, etc. 

The Chatham County Resource Conservation Education Center (CCRCEC) maintains information on its website to help citizens of the County, including Tybee residents, to dispose of hazardous and nonhazardous household waste properly. The website includes a listing of facilities and businesses that will accept waste oil, hard to recycle materials, toxic wastes, and recyclables from the public. 

Pollution Prevention Tips for Local Businesses

Below are some brochures that describe pollution prevention strategies for businesses that have the potential to contaminate stormwater. 


*This information is not intended to replace an owner, contractor, developer or anyone else from securing independent engineering professional advice on storm water management issues. In many or most situations, any project will likely require the involvement of a professional to design and prepare a storm water management plan that will comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, policies and regulations.