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:

Trickle Down Thursday: Only Rain Down the Drain

Do you live near a storm drain? When you help keep it clean, you are helping to keep our rivers and lakes beautiful! Grass clippings and leaves contain nutrients; when the nutrients get to the water they feed algae. Algae takes over and kills off fish. Clean drains = clean water.