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Public Works FAQ

Public Works Frequently Asked Questions

Storm Water Frequently Asked Questions

What is stormwater runoff?

Stormwater runoff is water from rain or melting snow that “runs off” across the land instead of seeping into the ground. This runoff usually flows into the nearest stream, creek, river, lake or ocean. The runoff is not treated in any way.

What is allowed in storm drains?

Local laws prohibit anything other than uncontaminated rain water from entering the storm drain system. Never pour anything into a gutter, street or storm drain.

What are catch basins?

A catch basin is a curbside receptacle whose function is to convey water from streets and other urban surfaces into the storm drain system. The design of this drainage structure includes a sump that captures and temporarily stores some pollutants such as oils and sediment. Regular maintenance to clean out the sump removes the stored pollutants and prevents them from washing further into the storm drain system and into receiving waters such as the Chehalis River.

What is an illicit discharge?

Stormwater regulations define an “illicit discharge” as “any discharge to a municipal separate storm sewer that is not composed entirely of stormwater” (except discharges resulting from fire fighting activities and a few other categories). Common sources of non-stormwater, dry weather discharges in urban areas include apartments and homes, car washes, restaurants, airports, landfills, and gas stations, to name but a few. These so called “generating sites” discharge sanitary wastewater, septic system effluent, vehicle wash water, washdown from grease traps, motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline and fuel spills, among other substances. Although these illicit discharges can enter the storm drain system in various ways, they generally result from either direct connections (e.g., wastewater piping either mistakenly or deliberately connected to the storm drains) or indirect connections (e.g., infiltration into the storm drain system, spills, or “midnight dumping”). Illicit discharges can be further divided into those discharging continuously and those discharging intermittently.

How can I report a spill?

To report a spill or an illicit discharge, contact Jeff Springer at (360) 537-3393.

What can I do to prevent stormwater pollution?

By practicing healthy household habits, homeowners can keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, grass clippings, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of stormwater. Adopt these healthy household habits and help protect our lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands.

How can I help?

You can help reduce pollution in our stormwater by avoiding the release of chemicals or pollutants into the waterways. You can also help by participating with the Grays Harbor Stream Team in cleaning up local waterways.

Why manage stormwater?

The ultimate goal of stormwater management is to maintain the health of streams, lakes and aquatic life as well as provide opportunities for human uses of water by mitigating the effects of urban development. To achieve this goal stormwater management strives to maintain the natural hydrologic cycle, prevent an increased risk of flooding, prevent undesirable stream erosion, and protect water quality.

Do catch basins and storm drains get cleaned out?

Yes. The City regularly performs maintenance activities; including cleaning, of the storm drain system. In addition, the City crews are always available to respond to emergency situations where clogged storm drains result in flooding.

Why doesn’t the City clean out all of the storm drains before a storm?

City crews clean out clogged catch basins throughout the year as part of on-going maintenance. Unfortunately, there are just too many catch basins and not enough time. Residents can reduce flooding in their neighborhoods by keeping material out of the storm drain system or clean debris around the catch basin when performing landscape maintenance.

What are the metal buttons that are above catch basins around Aberdeen?

Those buttons were placed above catch basins as a reminder to citizens that the catch basins drain to the streams, and should not have any discharge into the catch basin that is not rainfall.

What discharges are allowed in catch basins?

The only discharge that is allowed in catch basins is rainfall.

What is the Stormwater Rate?

The Stormwater Rate is $6.08 per month.