For a cleaner, greener Hampton Roads
Select Page

May 30, 2019

What Do You Know: Storm Drains

What’s a storm drain for?

It’s essentially to collect stormwater runoff. The problem comes from all the “things” stormwater collects as it runs across the ground—including yards, streets and sidewalks—bringing all the dirt, trash, oil, grease, fertilizers and other pollutants it collects, carrying them down the storm drain and ultimately into our waterways.

So what can we do? Remember this…

Rain, and only rain, goes down the storm drain.

That’s right! Did you know that by leaving dog waste on the ground you’re putting dangerous amounts of bacteria in our waterways and contributing to beach closures?

Or that by raking or blowing leaves and yard debris into the street you’re actually harming our local fish and crab populations?

How does this happen? Dog waste, car wash soap and rinsing water, fertilizer, leaves and other yard debris, all pollute our waterways when they go down our storm drains.

You can play an important role in the cleanup effort by practicing our list of things that are “good to do.”

Good to Do

  • Test soil before fertilizing. soil test provides a list of recommendations for soil amendments to help you make the right decisions for your lawn. However, it is important to understand the information it is providing and the limitations of such a tool.
  • Seed bare spots. If you have bare areas, something must be wrong, and it is preventing the establishment of a turf. This is a problem because you can continually lose your soil. First test your soil testing to see if it needs any soil amendments and then look into different ground covers to stabilize the soil.
  • Plant native plants. Native plants don’t require wasteful watering, fertilizing or pesticides. Planting natives also restores wildlife habitat for birds and butterflies.
  • Keep grass and yard waste out of the street. Know your locality’s collection schedule. Only place leaves and yard debris out at the designated time and know the collection requirements (ex. bagging, placement, etc.). Keep loose leaves and yard debris out of the street so that they don’t get washed or blown into the storm drain, which will cause flooding.
  • Don’t feed the geese. Feeding geese encourages them to stay in an area longer than they would if they had to go scavenging for their own food. While lingering around, geese feces – full of bacteria – is left on the ground, only to get washed into the waterway the next time it rains.
  • Scoop, bag and trash dog waste. It’s not a fertilizer. It is raw sewage that releases bacteria and nitrogen into our waterways. When pet waste is left on the ground, it gets washed into the storm drain and into our waterways, and a little pet waste goes a long way. A day’s waste from one large dog can contain 7.8 billion fecal coliform bacteria, enough to close 15 acres of shellfish beds and contribute to beach closures!
  • Pledge to make your home a “star.” Help protect local waterways by joining one of the many residential watershed protection programs in Hampton Roads. Find one in your neighborhood using this interactive map or download the PDF version.
  • Contact your local stormwater representative. For inquires related to flooding, stormwater or storm drains, or to report illegal dumping into the storm drain or street, please contact the stormwater representative from your locality.

What Do You Know: Storm Drains Media Toolkit