It is important to understand the difference between sanitary sewers and storm sewers so we can protect our water resources. The sanitary sewer is a system of subsurface pipes that carries sewage from bathrooms, sinks, kitchens, and other plumbing components to a wastewater treatment plant where it is filtered and treated before being discharged.
The storm sewer however is a system designed to carry rainfall runoff and other drainage. It is not designed to carry sewage or hazardous wastes that can enter the environment as pollution. The runoff is carried in subsurface pipes and/or open ditches and discharges untreated into local streams, rivers and other surface water bodies. Storm drain inlets are typically found in curbs and low-lying outdoor areas. Some older buildings have basement floor drains that connect to the storm sewer system. (MSU WATER)
Disposal of chemicals or hazardous substances to the storm sewer system damages the environment. Motor oil, cleaners, paints and other common household items that get into storm drains can poison fish, birds, and other wildlife, and can find their way into drinking water supplies. In addition, grass clippings, leaves, litter, and organic matter can clog storm drains, cause flooding, and increase nutrient pollution in waterways. You may have seen storm drain tags placed by Warren County SWCD reminding people "Only Rain Down the Drain" and other similar messaging to help protect our environment and water resources.
There are a wide range of things people can do at home to help safeguard our water sources; from installation of rain gardens and rain barrels to slow down stormwater runoff to washing your car NOT in the impervious driveway. But simply put, only rain water should enter our storm drains!
To find out more about what you can do to help prevent water pollution, visit our Partners at Save Local Waters!