Lawn & Garden

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:

 

Sweeping leaves away from storm drain

 

 

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!

(6) Comments

  1. raingarden Jan 14, 2012

    Mulch the leaves with the lawnmower into the grass. It helps the lawn and stops the leaves from stopping up the storm drain. Wash your car in the car wash or on the lawn.

  2. Green Thumb Apr 04, 2014

    I believe that it should be illegal to blow lawn debris (grass clippings, dirt, leaves,etc) into the street. All of the debris finds its way into the storm drains and into the bay. Lawn companies and home owners should be compelled by law to bag or transport those materials to the recycling facility. I also believe that when leaves are placed curbside for pick up by county trucks that they should not be allowed to be put in the street where they wash down into the storm drains clogging them and sending debris to the bay. There should be a fine if you put your leaves in the street.

    • jjones Apr 09, 2014

      Thanks for posting your thoughts!

  3. Jade Brunet Nov 10, 2016

    I am happy to have found this information about how to keep a storm drain clean. It is good to know that keeping lids on trash cans and recycling bins can help a lot. This would prevent the wind from blowing unwanted items down the drain. Something else to consider would be to seek professional help if the drain gets blocked or needs to be maintained.

    • jjones Nov 14, 2016

      We’re glad you found it helpful!

  4. John Smith Sep 28, 2017

    Drain cleaning allows your pipes to dispose of your wastewater quickly. The more efficient your waste plumbing, the less of a risk to cross-contamination issues, such as back-flow.
    Drain Cleaning Chattanooga

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