City of Edinburg officials have launched a new outreach effort meant to educate the public about controlling storm water runoff pollution on a local and regional level.

Edinburg, along with Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 and the City of Mercedes, has begun its Storm Water Management Program in an effort to control polluted storm water runoff. The program will be overseen by the Texas Comission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Pollution Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) permit program.

As storm water quality partners, the county and the City of Edinburg are collaborating in preventing pollution in local waterways. The city engineering department will oversee the program within the city.

“Our department is tasked with making sure that we follow the permit. But it takes a cooperative effort from every department because it’s our own activities we have to monitor,” said city Engineer Isael Posadas, who addressed the Edinburg Environmental Advisory Board last week. “You have street sweepers, you have brush collection … all of those activities, and every department is playing a role in this. We are just doing the coordination to make sure we meet all the requirements of this permit.”

The city is charged with at least six minimum requirements set out by TCEQ. Requirements include public involvement; public outreach; regulating illicit discharge of pollutants; monitoring construction site runoff as well as post construction runoff; and pollution prevention.

According to the permit, the city is required to have these steps in place by 2013. TCEQ requires that every city adhere to the permit, according to Posadas.

“One of the things we want to start doing is educating the public, making them aware of the types of activities we want to limit and making them aware that these things can hurt,” Posadas said. “As technical as it may be, it’s really pretty simple. We want to simplify things for people and let them know that this is an activity we want to limit and there is a reason why we want to limit it.”

According to the county, storm water runoff can carry pollutants through the storm water drainage system directly into local bayous, ditches, ponds, and finally into lakes and oceans. Additionally, sediment that comes off construction sites is very detrimental to the environment, fish and to the natural habitat of animals native to area, according to Posadas.

The city is encouraging the public to visit www.hidalgo-swmp.org, a special Web site created by Hidalgo County for more information.