Construction Stormwater

Construction sites are often the source of stormwater pollution but they do not have to be. Helping to maintain site barriers and construction entrances will reduce track out and erosion. Keeping up with vehicle maintenance and storing chemicals correctly reduces the amount of chemicals added to stormwater runoff. Ensure your site is abiding by the EPA’s Federal Requirements.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are a great solution for any area of your yard that ponds regularly. They are designed to occupy a low spot and fill it with beautiful plants that will soak in the rain instead of letting it pond. A rain garden can improve your property’s curb appeal, provide for pollinators, and clean up stormwater, all while doing work for you. The Gardner’s Supply Company has tips here.

Mowing? Skip Bagging!

As we round out the hot season, consider mixing up your lawncare routine. Save yourself some time outside by skipping a step: leave the cuttings on your lawn! The cuttings encourage moisture to stick around, reducing the amount of watering you’ll have to do. They also act as natural fertilizer by returning nutrients to the soil. It is a win-win!

Hazmat Storage

If you live or work where there are large volumes of hazardous materials, please remember to store all hazardous materials in properly marked containers and in secure places. Check the container for holes, keep them where they won’t get wet, replace any damaged containers, and dispose of any unused chemicals properly. View the EPA’s guide to federal requirements for more information.

Illicit Discharge: Dumpster Juice

One common culprit of stormwater pollution is leaking dumpsters. That stinky, sticky dumpster juice flows out of the trash and into our waterways. All dumpsters should be water tight- request a new one from your trash service if yours is leaking.

What can YOU do about Groundwater Flooding?

In the Grand Island area, high groundwater has long been a fact of life. First documented when the settlers arrived, the City started monitoring the groundwater levels in the late 1960’s. In some ways, it is an asset: it provides our drinking water and can be utilized to create beautiful lake-front properties. Unfortunately, many basements were built below the groundwater table, leaving some property owners with a constant source of concern.

The fastest, often least expensive step to prevent water in your home is to make sure that your landscaping is directing all stormwater away from the foundation of your home. Extend downspouts, re-slope your landscaping, plant trees where available to drink in the water. This doesn’t address groundwater but it does keep the rain from adding to your troubles.

If you have water in your basement and your neighbor doesn’t, consider the depth of your basement. The depth of just one cement block (generally 8″) can mean the difference between a dry basement and a lengthy refinishing project. Some people with enough ceiling clearance might consider filling in a few inches of their basement.

Not ready to fill in your basement? Unfortunately, the most effective way to keep groundwater out of your home is to invest in a drainage or pump system. These systems are costly and there is no guarantee they will keep your property dry. Some companies try to sell you the moon so take the time to shop around, get quotes, and educate yourself before committing to purchasing a system. Once installed, remember to perform regular maintenance on your system to ensure continued protection.

Last- remember that our stormwater system is separate from our sewer system. Discharge any clean water that may be pumped out of your basement into the stormwater system. Connecting your sump discharge to your sewer line is flirting with danger- you could cause a sewer back-up in your own home at any time.

Is this an Illicit Discharge?

Find a stream with a questionable sheen? Poke it with a stick. If the sheen forms back together, you probably have an illicit discharge.

Please report any instances of illicit discharge to the Stormwater Department or Public Works. All reports will be investigated. You are our best defense against stormwater pollution.

Sump Pumps: What’s all the fuss about?

Sump pumps are commonly used to keep groundwater out of our basements. Does your property have a sump pump? Have you looked at it? Make sure you know where the water comes from (groundwater or grey water?) and where it goes. If your pump is putting groundwater into the main sanitary line, you’re gambling with fate. Putting extra water into an already full sewer pipe will create a sewer backup in your house. Roto-Rooter explains more.

Clean water can be discharged onto your property in an area where it will soak back in (garden, lawn, etc) or underground into the nearest storm drain. The City’s discharge policy details our preferred discharge locations; please note that we do not allow the curb to be cut to allow discharge into the gutter (this weakens the concrete and increases street repair costs) nor pipes to be laid across the sidewalk (creates obstacles for pedestrians).

For more information on Sump Pumps, check out these previous posts:

  • March: annual Sump Pump maintenance
  • April: Ejector Pump Vs Sump Pump
  • June: Proper Plumbing for an Ejector Pump

Fertilizer + Pesticides = $$$$

Fertilizer, pesticides, and other lawn chemicals are expensive. Save your money by following these tips:

  • Spot treat your weeds: instead of treating the whole yard, dig up or spray the root of individual plants.
  • Clean up with a broom: sweep any dry chemicals off your sidewalk, driveway, or street and back into your yard or collect it for next time. Fertilizing your pavement won’t make it grow and these chemicals will just wash away with the next rain.
  • Set your mower height at or above 3″: a taller lawn keeps the weeds from getting enough sunlight AND helps the grass develop a better root system, requiring less water.
  • Follow package instructions: if you have to apply chemicals, please read and understand package instructions before you apply. These chemicals really only work in specific seasons, on specific plants, or at controlled concentrations. You may do more harm than good by applying before a rain, during a dormant season, or overapplying.


Have an unsightly ditch? Consider a bioswale! These ditches have been designed to improve drainage, water quality, and natural habitats. They use taller (3″) vegetation to slow down the flow of stormwater which allows dirt and sediment to fall out of the flow and creates a cleaner discharge. The slower water also has a chance to seep into the ground and replenish the groundwater reservoir we use for our drinking water. Taller vegetation creates habitats for wildlife and may attract more pollinators (like butterflies, bees, and beetles). See the USDA’s guide here: