Don’t Dump into Drains

Think twice about dumping anything into a storm drain! It is a common misconception that storm drains lead to a wastewater treatment plant, but in many urban and rural settings, the water entering drains receives no treatment and is discharged directly into the closest waterway. Aside from the dirt and pollution that is simply washed off urban surfaces into the waterways, your property may be contributing to water quality issues in local streams without you even knowing.

Keeping Storm Drains Clear

The pollution entering our waterways doesn’t entirely come from illegal dumping; a considerable amount comes from urban and suburban surfaces.  As a vehicle owner and/or a homeowner there are a number of things that can be done to minimize the pollution entering our waterways.

  • Never dump anything directly into a storm drain
  • Lawn Debris– Materials such as grass and tree clippings should never be swept into a storm drain or onto a street, they provide excess nutrients and promote unnecessary algae growth which, in turn, can cause severe negative impacts to the rest of stream ecosystems.
  • Pick up After Your Pets– Rain washes parasites and bacteria from pet waste into local waterways and also unbalances nutrient loads. This poses harm to those who use the waterway for recreational use and also degrades stream ecosystems.
  • Sweep Pesticides and Fertilizer off of hard surfaces and onto your lawn– These applications will be streamlined to local water bodies if left on patios, driveways, or other impervious surfaces.
  • Wash Vehicles on Lawn– Washing vehicles on a grassy surface allows the dirty and soapy water to be absorbed by plants and soil, filtering the water and preventing it from washing into a storm drain.
  • Properly Dispose of Chemicals– Some things like motor oil and batteries can be recycled. Other products that should be brought to a facility for proper disposal include paint, herbicides, pesticides, and swimming pool chemicals. Be careful to clean up after any spills and avoid allowing any chemicals to reach the storm drains.
Stormwater pipe

In many cases water from storm drains collects in large pipes and empties into streams, untreated. Photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program.

Storm drain signage. Photo Credit Isaac Wedin

Signage is a common way to let the public know about storm drains. Photo credit: Isaac Wedin.

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