Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping is the disposal of waste in an area where it is not permitted. This could be along a back property line, along a stream bank, in the woods, or in some other off-road area. Another form of illegal dumping involves putting debris or pouring anything other than stormwater runoff into a storm sewer inlet.

Illegal dumping is a concern because it pollutes our rivers and causes our rivers and streams to look trashy. Download the PDF: Are you a Water Polluter?

If you observe illegal dumping or if you see anyone pouring something into a storm drain inlet, please call the City of Fort Wayne at 311!

Frequently Asked Questions about Illegal Dumping

Debris or waste dumped down a storm sewer inlet can cause water pollution. Storm sewers empty directly into lakes, streams and rivers, so anything that goes into a storm drain will end up in a water body without any sort of water quality treatment. Also, stormwater runoff from sites where debris is dumped can carry pollutants into the storm sewer system. Fort Wayne relies on citizens to report illegal dumping so that it can be cleaned up and water quality can be protected.

  • Illegal dumping often happens late at night and before dawn.
  • Businesses that illegally put chemicals down a storm drain may do so in remote areas.
  • Commercial vehicles that dump liquids into storm sewers may not have a business name on the vehicle or they may not have a license plate.
  • Anything other than stormwater being put into a storm drain qualifies as illegal dumping.

It is helpful to have as much of the information listed below as possible when you call; however, this is not all required and it is better to report as much information as you have rather than not to call at all.

  • Location of the dumping
  • Time the incident was observed
  • Description of what was being dumped
  • Vehicle description if a vehicle was involved
  • License plate information

The Stormwater Ordinance makes it illegal to knowingly dump or discharge hazardous materials into the storm drain system and the City may impose fines on violators when they are caught. You can help by reporting illegal dumping to the City by calling 311.

Dumping used oil, or anything other than clean water into the storm drain system is illegal. One gallon of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water. To report the problem, call 311 – the City’s “One Call to City Hall” service center.

Storm drains are designed for catching rain water only. Dumping trash or other pollutants down storm drain inlets is illegal and is a violation of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 as well as the City of Fort Wayne Stormwater Ordinance. If a neighbor is disposing of trash in the storm drain, they may not understand that drain inlets directly connect to our creeks and rivers. If you have an amicable relationship with your neighbor, it may be just a matter of informing and making them aware of its environmental impact. If it is someone who you feel is knowingly violating and repeatedly dumping into storm drains, please call the City of Fort Wayne at 311.

If you are a resident of Allen County, you may dispose of household hazardous wastes including pesticides, fertilizer, oil-based paint, paint thinner and other household chemicals during Tox Away Tuesdays sponsored by the Allen County Department of Environmental Management.  Allen County residents may drop off household hazardous wastes from 9 AM – 2 PM every Tuesday at 2260 Carroll Road in Fort Wayne. Download a map to the site and a list of items that may be dropped off.

The Department also maintains an extensive list of sources for disposing of or recycling many household wastes. These resources can be found at

Fines and penalties are based on type and amount of illegally discharged material.

The best place to wash your car is a commercial car wash. Commercial car washes collect and treat the dirty, soapy water so that it does not go directly into a pond, stream or river. If you must wash your car at home, do so over a lawn or gravel area to be sure the soap and dirt don’t flow into a storm sewer. Use biodegradable soaps to wash your vehicle, using as little water as possible. Shut off water while washing your car, or use a trigger nozzle to stop the flow. Remember not to leave your car on the lawn when you have finished washing it.

Grass, leaves, and yard clippings that are repeatedly swept into catch basins can clog the drain, causing flooding and the potential for becoming a breeding ground for rodents and insects. Additionally, when grass and leaves decompose they encourage excessive growth of algae which can deprive fish of adequate oxygen.