Storm drains are the metal grates that are found on streets, often at corners and on the sides of curbs and gutters. The purpose of the storm drain is to help prevent flooding by diverting rainwater and melted snow off of the streets and other paved surfaces and into a natural body of water.
Harming Water Quality
Although storm drains fulfill an important purpose, they can harm water quality. The rainwater that is directed into a lake or stream by the storm drains is not treated. The rainwater can pick up substances along the way such as lawn chemicals, oil, other household chemicals like paint and soap and wash it directly into the stream. This runoff can pollute our waterways, harm wildlife and degrade water quality.
However, there are steps that you can take to prevent pollutants from running into lakes and streams.
Use lawn chemicals safely. Always follow label instructions and never apply before rain or watering the lawn unless directed.
Recycle used oil. Never place used motor oil in the trash or pour it down storm drains. Dispose of used oil at a used oil collection facility.
Clean driveways, sidewalks or paved areas around your home. Remove debris or residue that could end up in a storm drain.
Wash your car the right way. Either wash your car at a car wash that filters the wastewater, or wash it in a grassy area. Avoid washing the car in the driveway where the soap can easily run in the street.
Never dispose of trash or chemicals directly in the storm drain.