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(425) 478-3133

Storm Drain Cleaning

We all know that when it rains, it can pour! How you manage excess stormwater is key. Storm drains are a simple way of handling heavy rainfall. They can be seen across most urban areas to help keep the city safe and clean.

A storm drain is an underground channel that collects rainwater from streets, parking lots, and other impervious surfaces. When poorly maintained, these channels can become clogged with debris and other objects such as leaves or twigs. Left neglected and not cleaned periodically, these storm drains have the potential to back up, flood streets, and even lead to overflowing sewage in private residences.

Why Are Storm Drains Important?

Storm drains are one of the most critical aspects of urban infrastructure. They help manage the vast amounts of precipitation that fall during the rainy season, preventing flooding and water pollution.

However, heavy rain events can overwhelm the system’s capacity to handle the waste. During these times, storm drains can be a critical part of the city’s infrastructure for managing stormwater. In some cities, storm drains also serve as part of the system for managing surface water (when it’s not raining) that flows from creeks and streams into the city.

How Is a Storm Drain Cleaned?

When cleaning storm drains, the best practice is to use a wide nozzle wand that is designed for cleaning drains. Using a standard, narrow-diameter cleaning tool can clog the drain or get stuck in the pipes, potentially stopping the flow of water.

The first step in cleaning storm drains is to determine which drains need attention. In some areas, there may be a storm drain cleaning schedule posted by the city. You may also have a maintenance crew that cleans a few of the most heavily used drains in the area. In other areas, you’ll have to determine which drains need attention through visual inspection. You may also be able to find out when specific drains are cleaned through a city’s public works department. 

What You’ll Need

A long pole or shovel—you’ll need one of these to clear the debris from the storm drain.

Rakes or shovels: You’ll need these to scrape away smaller debris that may be blocking the drain.

Heavy-duty magnets: These can be attached to the end of a long pole to help remove heavy objects like branches, tires, or other large pieces of debris. If you notice that the grate covering the storm drain is bent or damaged, you’ll want to contact the city and request that they send someone to repair it.

How to Keep Your Storm Drains Clear

Use an automated cleaning tool to remove leaves, twigs, and other organic materials. You can use a leaf-blower or an automatic vacuum to suck the debris directly into a bag or container. Plant trees and shrubs away from the storm drain, as tree roots can clog a storm drain and contribute to debris build-up in the pipes.

Remove any objects that may be clogging the storm drain. Even seemingly harmless objects, such as a piece of string, can clog a storm drain. Have a skilled technician repair any breaks in storm drain pipes- even a small break can cause a storm drain to clog.

Plan a Spring Cleaning Ritual

When autumn ends, and winter comes around, we look towards spring as a time for renewal. We begin new diets and exercise regimens, clean our homes, and even start new hobbies. What better time to clean out your storm drains as well?

When autumn ends, leaves fall from trees, and people often walk around their neighborhoods with rakes, cleaning out their storm drains as part of a ritual to keep their neighborhoods from flooding. This ritual is a great way to get your neighborhood involved in helping to keep its waterways clean.

Keep Leaf Drains Clean

As mentioned above, storm drains become clogged with leaves during heavy rains. Leaves and other yard waste, such as grass clippings and dirt, will remain in the storm drain, blocking it and causing flooding.

If you want your neighborhood to be safe during heavy rainstorms, one thing you can do is help keep the storm drains clean. You can start by keeping your own yard clean. Avoid letting leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste build up. Instead, clear these things away consistently.

Establish a Network of Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are natural landscaping features that have been used to prevent flooding for years. Rain gardens are planted areas designed to catch runoff from roofs and driveways and runoff from heavily trafficked areas.

When heavy rains hit a populated area, the storm drains become clogged, causing them to overflow onto nearby streets and into people’s yards. Rain gardens help prevent this from happening.

They catch runoff from roofs and driveways, as well as from heavily trafficked areas, diverting it away from the storm drains and instead into the gardens, where the water is absorbed into the ground and is therefore less likely to cause flooding in nearby areas.

Rain gardens are simple to create. Simply plant a flower bed in an area of your yard that isn’t used for anything else. Place the flower bed in an area of your yard that gets a lot of runoff, such as close to the road or near your driveway.

Once the flowers are planted, they will naturally catch runoff from nearby areas, helping to prevent flooding in your neighborhood.

Installing Catchment Systems

Another way to prevent flooding in your neighborhood is by installing a catchment system. A catchment system is essentially a large rain barrel that collects rainwater runoff from your roof. Instead of that water going down the gutter and into the storm drain, it gets diverted into the rain barrel.

You can then use the water from a catchment system to water your plants. There are many types of catchment systems on the market that can be easily installed in the average home and are relatively inexpensive.

One of the best things about catchment systems is that they don’t just prevent flooding in your own yard, they also help prevent flooding in your neighborhood. Once you have a catchment system installed, divert the water from the barrel into your nearby storm drain, helping to prevent it from overflowing.

Report Any Drainage Issues 

When you’re out in your neighborhood, keep an eye out for any drainage issues you may be able to help with. If you see a storm drain clogged with leaves, grass clippings, or dirt, report it to your local government.

If you see any drainage issues, such as a clogged storm drain, a street light that is out, or a pothole in the road that hasn’t been filled, report them to your local government. Your local government is there to help you, and they will appreciate any assistance you can provide in keeping your neighborhood safe and clean.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do storm drains go?

Storm drains flow into the nearest waterway. The waterway could be a river, lake, or bay.

Where does stormwater come from?

Stormwater comes from the rain that falls on streets and parking lots.

Why do storm drains have lines marked on them? 

The lines on the storm drain show the water level during different kinds of storms. The lines show how high the water is expected to rise during different kinds of rain storms.

How often should I clean the storm drains in my neighborhood?

Local governments may specify how often you should clean the storm drains. If you don’t see a schedule posted, try cleaning the drains once every few months.

Final Words

Heavy rains often cause flooding because storm drains become clogged with leaves and other yard waste. It’s important to keep your own yard clean and ensure the storm drains in your neighborhood are also cleaned out. To prevent flooding, you can plant rain gardens, install catchment systems, and report any drainage issues you see.

Storm drains are important parts of the urban landscape. They’re designed to handle a high volume of water by quickly and efficiently moving that water away from the city and into a waterway. But to do this job effectively, drains need to be kept clean. By following simple steps, you can keep your neighborhood safer and cleaner.

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