Storm drains or catch basins are pits dug out on the side of the road and covered with metal grates. They are built into streets, parking lots and commercial plazas. A catch basin is a pipe system that catches contaminates in rain water and like a large trap on a sink separates the waste from the water. These pipes can be a series of falls, stair steps, pits, and platforms that catch the trash and send the water on its way. The separated water then enters the storm sewer system and is reintroduced to a city’s water supply or other body of water.
Storm sewers and sanitation sewers are not the same thing. A city sewer line takes household waste water from homes and sends it to a lagoon or waste water treatment plant. Storm sewers collect rain and snow run off from neighborhood streets and sends it to the water supply.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that storm drains handle rain water. Runoff from a storm can pickup motor oil, urine, newspapers, grass clippings, and any number of contaminates. This can make it just as dirty as sewage. Over time a catch basin will clog if not properly maintained. It’s not only large garbage that causes clogs, but the dirt and oil make sludge in the bottom of the basin and make it harder to settle out the waste.
Who Cleans a Catch Basin?
Catch basins are the city’s responsibility. Every city has a storm sewer system to help cope with heavy rainfall. Some cities even tie their storm sewers in with their sanitation system, but heavy storms make that system prone to flooding. Most modern systems use separate pipe lines for the waste water and storm drainage.
How do You Clean a Catch Basin?
The traditional method of cleaning a catch basin requires that a cleaning crew shut down part of a street and remove the grating. Once the grate is gone the crew scoops the trash out of the basin with a bucket loader or they use a vacuum truck to suck all the contents up into a tank. Both methods help dispose of trash and sludge in a catch basin. Although some plumbing companies offer hydro-jetting to clear a clogged basin; with routine maintenance a jetting system isn’t necessary.
How Can You Help?
- Properly dispose of all trash in your home. Don’t throw paper or bottles down the basin. Also know how to properly deal with motor oil, anti-freeze, and grease.
- Remind your children not play with their toys around catch basins, one careless moment and they could lose their favorite toy forever.
- Report overflowing or excessive trash to your city sanitation department as soon as you notice it.