Become a Drain Stormer

The Facts About Storm Drains

Storm drains are openings constructed in streets and roadways that help to prevent flooding by allowing rain water and melting snow to drain away. Storm drains are usually found along the curb line, many times at an intersection. Curbs and gutters help to direct water from the street into the storm drain.

As storm drains collect water from the street, they also take in anything that the stormwater carries with it. Most water that goes into a storm drain gets no treatment before it is discharged into a water body—a pond, ditch, stream, or river. That means that anything that goes into the storm drain can pollute the environment. Some of the common pollutants found in stormwater include: lawn chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides, bacteria from pet waste, household chemicals, soaps used for washing cars, and dirt, soil, and sediment. Even products that are labeled as biodegradable or non-toxic can cause damage to waterways and can harm aquatic life.

Storm drains are not intended to be the neighborhood trash can. Nothing should be dumped down a storm drain. Chemicals, paint or other pollutants can go directly into a stream or water body. Trash—or even leaves and grass clippings—can cause the storm drain to become clogged, resulting in street flooding.

How Can You Help?

You can help prevent water pollution and reduce street flooding by being a storm drain steward. Here’s what that means:

  • Do not dump anything into the storm drain, and never throw trash into the street.
  • Latex paint can be disposed of by opening the cans to let the paint dry out, then putting the cans in the trash.
  • Oil paint, household chemicals, cleaning products and old lawn chemicals should be stored then taken to the Allen County Environmental Management Department every Tuesday.
    Dropoff hours: 9 AM – 2 PM.
    2260 Carroll Rd.
    Fort Wayne, IN 46818
    (please enter off Lima Rd.)
  • Recycle used oil at an automotive center. Do not dump it in the storm drain or into the trash.
  • Consider using a commercial car wash rather than washing you car in the driveway or street.
  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways to remove dirt and other debris so that is it not washed into the street and storm sewer by the rain.
  • Use lawn chemicals sparingly. More is not necessarily better. You can save yourself money by using the right amount and making sure it all gets on the lawn, not the sidewalk or driveway.
  • Pick up after your pet.
  • Keep leaves and grass clippings out of the street. If your street is flooding, check to see if the storm drain is blocked by yard waste and clean it off, if possible.
  • Mark the storm drains in your neighborhood as a reminder to be a Storm Drain Steward. Learn how below!

Contact City Utilities at 311 for more information.

Picture of storm drain marker that says "No Dumping Drains to Stream".

How to Mark Storm Drains

Marking storm drains in your neighborhood is an easy way to remind people that they should never dump anything down a storm drain. The City provides all of the markers and equipment that you need.

To volunteer to mark storm drains, visit Clean Drains: Be River SmART 2024.

Take our service pledge to show your involvement!

Fort Wayne is a proud supporter of the Clear Choices Clean Water program. This program features an interactive website sharing resources related to a variety of topics including volunteer services. The most exciting part of the website is a pledge feature where you can show the community that you are taking action to improve water quality by volunteering—whether you are marking storm drains, giving presentations to local organizations or schools, participating in stream clean-ups, or doing a variety of other volunteer actions. By taking the pledge, you will be connected to City or other programs and events aimed at raising awareness about water quality. The website’s mapping feature also allows you to see who else in your area is volunteering to make a difference!