Federal regulations define an illicit discharge as "...any discharge to a Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System (MS4) that is not entirely comprised of storm water..." with some exceptions. These exceptions include discharges from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitted industrial sources and discharges from fire fighting activity.
The City is required to have a program to detect and remove "illicit discharges" (the source of illegal pollutant discharges). Pollution finds its way to local streams from a system of drainage ways and storm drain pipes. If a pollutant source can be determined from a specific location, it is called a "point source." If the origin of a pollutant discharge cannot be directly located it is called a "non-point source."
Methods required by the State of Nebraska include an ordinance to restrict illicit discharges and methods to locate pollutant sources such as the random monitoring of stormdrain system. The Lincoln/Lancaster County Health, Environmental Quality Unit administers the Illicit Discharge program in the City of Lincoln.