Frequently Asked Questions about Stormwater
What are storm drain inlets?
Storm drain inlets are curbside receptacles that catch surface water runoff from rainfall and deliver it to the storm drain system, where it's eventually delivered to local creeks and rivers without being treated or cleaned.
Are sanitary sewers and storm drains the same thing?
No. Storm drains and sanitary sewers have two distinct functions. Storm drains are intended to collect and transport runoff from rainfall. Storm drain systems do not remove pollutants from water before it is discharged into streams and rivers. These are typically the drains found in streets and in parking lots. Sanitary sewers collect wastewater from indoor plumbing such as toilets, sinks, washing machines and floor drains and take it to a sewage treatment plant. The treatment plant removes many pollutants from wastewater before it is discharged to the river.
Do drain inlets get cleaned out?
Yes. Crews from Fort Wayne's Stromwater Utility maintain drain inlets, manholes, and thousands of miles of storm drain pipelines citywide. However leaves, lawn clippings, and even litter can routinely collect around drains before the City is able to get to all of the rains to clean them. The City appreciates residents help keeping drains clean and functioning well. Learn more about being a Storm Drain Steward and doing your part to help.
Why doesn't the City clean out all of the storm drain inlets right before a storm?
Seeing as Fort Wayne maintains thousands of drain inlets, there are too many to clean in a short period of time. Storm drain inlets are maintained on a year-round schedule, but it is important for residents to help by cleaning leaves and debris off storm drain inlets.
Why doesn't the City install filters or screens in front of drain inlets?
It sounds like a good idea, but during a rainstorm, trash is quickly swept into drain inlets. Any screen or filtration device placed in front of the drain inlet would cause trash to accumulate and clog the grate, preventing proper drainage and potentially creating a flood hazard. With approximately 61,000 drain inlets in Fort Wayne, maintenance crews would be able unable to keep up with cleaning these devices potentially creating flooding hazards; however, there are new technologies being developed in the form of filtration screening devices to be installed and inserted inside drain inlets. The City's stormwater engineers are always evaluating these new technologies for possible future use.
What types of pollutants are found in stormwater?
Heavy metals, paint thinner, paint products, motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning products, human and animal feces, antifreeze, litter, and dead animals - these are just a few examples of the pollutants typically found in stormwater.
How much water passes through the system?
On a typical dry summer day, around one million gallons of water flows through the system. This flow comes from landscape irrigation runoff (primarily lawns) fire hydrant pressure releases, and car washes throughout the region, just to name a few.
In heavy rainstorm, this flow can increase to millions and millions of gallons a day, carrying hundreds of pollution sources.