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Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Storm drain full of leaves. "It may be time for a little Drain-scaping."

Keep autumn leaves off the ground and out of the storm drain

Do you have a storm drain near your home? Maintaining them is important, as they are part of our overall drainage system that helps get extra water off the road as quickly as possible.

When autumn in the Pacific Northwest begins, that means rain will be more prevalent. When that happens, it’s common for storm drains to get clogged with fallen leaves, mulch, grass clippings, and even trash or other debris. If the drain gets clogged, that can mean street flooding.

Here are some helpful tips on how to keep the storm drains near your home free and clear to work the way they’re intended to.


Use a rake or pitchfork to clear limbs, leaves, and other debris from the drain. Don’t try to remove the grate. The best time to inspect the drain near your property is before a rainstorm. After the storm is over, maintain the openings well by clearing away any ice or other excess debris that has accumulated.

  • Take a moment to clean the storm drain inlets and ditches in your neighborhood. Make sure they are free of leaves, litter, and other debris that may inhibit proper drainage – particularly when rainy weather is headed your way.

  • Do not rake leaves, grass, or other organic refuse into the street or into a nearby ditch when doing yard work. These materials only end up blocking the drainage system. Furthermore, leaves and grass clippings reduce oxygen in the water (affecting fish) and add materials that would not otherwise get into the water system.

  • Do not clean driveways or sidewalks with a hose. Instead, sweep leaves, twigs, and grass clippings and place them in a compost pile or yard waste container. Otherwise, they may end up blocking the storm drainage system.

  • Do not dump trash or pollutants into ditches or drain inlets. Not only will these toxins clog the storm drain, they can severely damage local bodies of water.

  • If you inspect the drain and notice that there is debris or other objects under the grate that you cannot clear by yourself, contact the city and notify them that additional help is required.

When pollutants carried by stormwater enter the rivers and streams, they harm local water quality, public health, fish and wildlife, and recreation. Make sure to clean up after your pet in your own yard, especially before it rains. When walking your pet, always bring a bag to scoop up waste. Dispose of bagged pet waste in a trash can.

#We Scoop

Cute Pug Poop Fairy. "There's no such thing as the Poop fairy. Only you can make pet waste disappear.

Protect our Waterways from Pet Waste! Find out how in this pet waste brochure!:

Removing debris from storm drains and constructing new green infrastructure that captures, filters, and holds stormwater, will reduce flooding and river pollution. It's in our back yard, let's take care of it.

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