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Nine Common Objects You Shouldn’t Let Fall Down Your Storm Drains

Storm drains may not seem as important as the drains inside your home but homeowners should not forget about this asset to outside plumbing. Similar to how your sewer line relocates waste away from your home and into a water treatment plant, a storm drain is designed to relocate access rainwater away from your property and into ditches and waterways. But just like the drains inside your house, most things shouldn’t fall down your sewer drain. Lawn clippings and plant debris, if left unattended, can clog your neighborhood’s storm drains and result in flooding. Chemicals used on lawns can leach into the running water and leak into local groundwater sources such as rivers and streams. Letting harmful debris fall into your storm drains isn’t just an environmental nightmare, it’s against the law.

How You Can Keep Your Storm Drains Clean

A storm drain works differently than your sewer line. None of the water that runs off into the storm drain goes somewhere to be treated. Whatever contaminants or pollutants that leach into the runoff, flows directly into the rivers, lakes, creeks, and streams, you swim, fish, and relax in. Properly maintaining your neighborhood storm drains doesn’t just protect your local waterways, it prevents costly and damaging flooding from happening in your neighborhood. Here’s how you can keep your storm drains clean and neighborhood flood free.

  • The only thing that should go down your storm drain is untainted rainwater. Make sure to keep the lids on your garbage cans sealed tight, especially on windy days. Bungee cords are an easy way to help secure the lids on top of your garbage cans and can be found at any local hardware store.
  • Dead leaves. When raking your leaves, make sure to rake them away from the storm drains. When leaves aren’t properly removed and left to flood your storm drains, they can form mats on top of the drains, and quickly prevent water from flooding in. Leaves should either be bagged or piled up for vacuuming if your neighborhood provides that service.
  • Lawn Trimmings. It might be tempting, but just like your leaves, lawn trimmings shouldn’t be blown onto the street either. Lawn trimmings can make for excellent compost; otherwise, they should be bagged for pickup.
  • Sand and salt. Try your best to limit the use of sand and salt on your walkways. Try to sweep any residual sand once the snow or ice has melted on your driveway before it melts and flows into the sewer drain.
  • Pet waste. The bacteria found in pet waste are highly toxic to local wildlife and it hurts your local water quality. It’s best to pick up pet waste as soon as possible, as stormwater can pick up the waste and wash it down the drain.
  • Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Any chemicals used on your lawn not only harm your local water wildlife but any wildlife that interacts with your property. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are a danger to native and locally grown plants, as well as native wildlife such as insects and animals that help to foster a healthy environment.
  • It’s illegal to directly dump or allow any pollutants to flow down your storm drains. It’s up to you to make sure you and your neighborhood keep all toxic materials such as cleaning products, paints, car fluids, and chemicals away from your storm drains.
  • Sometimes cars leak a little oil here and there, but you’ll want to prevent as much motor oil from flowing down your storm drain as possible. Just one gallon of motor oil can contaminate up to one million gallons of water. Proper storm drain maintenance, means preventing an oil leak in the first place. If you start experiencing car troubles, fix your car as soon as possible.
  • It used to be acceptable to flush old or unused medicine down the toilet, but now everything from ibuprofen, antidepressants, and birth control, are flowing into local waterways. Instead of flushing medicine down the toilet, you can drop it off at a medication take-back program or seal it in a bag with coffee grounds and throw it in the trash.

Nobody Wants a Flooded Neighborhood

Your storm drain works to keep your yard and streets clear of excess rainwater, the least you can do is keep them free of pollutants and debris. Polluted waterways harm your health and your fun, which is why it’s crucial to do your part and keep your storm drains clean.

Call Lighten Up Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric today for more information on what you should not let fall down your storm drains!

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