Suffolk County Government Crest

Suffolk County Stormwater Management Program

Edward P. Romaine, County Executive

Department of Public Works

Department of Economic Development and Planning

What are pathogens and why are they a problem?

Surface water pathogens are disease causing microbes including some bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Persons coming in contact or drinking contaminated water are at risk of an infection.

Where do pathogens come from?

Pathogens found in surface water can come from a variety of sources including sewage discharges; combined sewer overflows, leaking septic tanks, urban runoff, agricultural runoff, and wildlife.

What can I do to reduce the chance that pathogens will reach my local waterbody?

  • Always pick up after your pet. Preferably dispose of pet waste in the toilet. Pet waste left on the ground will eventually be washed into a storm drain and into a local waterbody.
  • Do not feed wildlife. This includes ducks and geese at your local park. Providing food may encourage wildlife to become dependent on handouts that are not part of their natural diet and cause the animals to congregate in high numbers. When animals congregate in high numbers a lot of waste is produced that is either directly added to the waterbody or washed into the waterbody.
  • Inspect your septic system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary. It is recommended that you pump your tank every 3 to 5 years.