Keep Your Storm Drain Clean
Whatever you keep out of the storm drain, you keep out of our streams.
Water that washes off your property into the storm drain — stormwater runoff — doesn’t go to a treatment plant. It often times goes straight into our streams. Storm drains can become clogged with excess leaves, tree branches and trash, which can lead to storm drain back-ups that flood streets, your yard and possibly your basement! Trash and contaminants that flow from storm drains into our local streams eventually flow into rivers including the Potomac, which empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
It may not seem like a big deal, but you can do a lot to keep our waterways clean just by being sure to tidy your yard, dispose of trash properly, and clean up after your dog, and by encouraging your neighbors to do the same.
Here are some simple steps to keep your storm drain and your waterways clean:
- Keep a tight lid on your trash cans and recycling bins, especially during windy days.
- Pick up trash in your community.
- Only rake leaves into the street if the county offers a leaf vacuuming program in your area.
- Don’t blow lawn clippings into the street. Direct them onto your property so they can be added to your compost bin, or bag them for pickup by the county.
- Limit use of sand and salt on your driveway and walkways. Sweep up residual sand once the snow and ice has melted and before the next rain storm so the sediment doesn’t end up in the stream.
- Pick-up after your dog! Stormwater will pick up the waste and wash it into the storm drain (and nearby streams). Pet waste contains harmful bacteria that impact stream wildlife and water quality. Read a guest blog about the “Poop Loop”.
- Limit fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide use
- It is illegal to allow pollutants to flow into a storm drain. If you see someone dumping or not containing pollutants report it.
- Organize your group and volunteer in Montgomery County’s Adopt a Road Program.
Find out if leaf vacuuming is available in your area and how it works.
Organize your workplace or group to Adopt-a-Road and conduct routine clean-ups.
Get a free Storm Drain Marker kit through the Dept. of Transportation’s Storm Drain Marking Program. The kit includes storm drain markers for as many storm drains as you would like to mark, adhesive, protective gloves, door hangers to place throughout your neighborhood and even a canvas tote – great for plastic bag-free shopping!
And, consider this: Keeping our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay clean is a great incentive for the small effort to keep your storm drains clean and clear. Watch this video to find out how stormwater negatively impacts our streams:
Why isn’t stormwater treated?
There are several reasons, but first and foremost, rainwater is necessary to keep our stream and rivers flowing. If all of this water was captured our smaller streams would slow to a trickle soon after a rain. Secondly, existing sewer and water treatment facilities cannot handle the volume of water created after a storm.
Can I wash my car in my driveway if it is near a storm drain?
Allowing car washing water to run down your driveway and into a storm drain is considered pollution. All of the chemicals used in the cleaners to wash the car, and the grease, dirt and oils that come off the car while washing will eventually enter into a stream. Instead of washing your car at home, use a commercial car wash where the waste water is collected and properly treated. Or, if you must wash your car at home, wash it on a level area of your yard. This will allow any pollutants to be absorbed and filtered out through the soil.
What can I do to help my neighbors understand how storm drains impact our waterways?
Mark your storm drain through the Dept. of Transportation’s Storm Drain Marking Program. The kit includes storm drain markers for as many storm drains as you would like to mark, adhesive, protective gloves, door hangers to place throughout your neighborhood and even a canvas tote – great for plastic bag-free shopping!