Stormwater Program FAQs

Storm drain inlets are curbside receptacles that catch surface water runoff from rainfall and deliver it to the storm drain system, where it’s eventually delivered to local creeks and rivers without being treated or cleaned.

No. Storm drains and sanitary sewers have two distinct functions. Storm drains are intended to collect and transport runoff from rainfall. Storm drain systems do not remove pollutants from water before it is discharged into streams and rivers. These are typically the drains found in streets and in parking lots.

Sanitary sewers collect wastewater from indoor plumbing such as toilets, sinks, washing machines, and floor drains and take it to a sewage treatment plant. The treatment plant removes many pollutants from wastewater before it is discharged to the river.

Yes. City Utilities crews maintain drain inlets, manholes, and thousands of miles of storm drain pipelines citywide. However, leaves, lawn clippings, and even litter can routinely collect around drains before the City is able to get to all of the drains to clean them. The City appreciates residents’ help keeping drains clean and functioning well. Learn more about being a Storm Drain Steward and doing your part to help.

Seeing as Fort Wayne maintains thousands of drain inlets, there are too many to clean in a short period of time. Storm drain inlets are maintained on a year-round schedule, but it is important for residents to help by cleaning leaves and debris off storm drain inlets to help prevent street flooding.

It sounds like a good idea, but during a rainstorm, trash is quickly swept into drain inlets. Any screen or filtration device placed in front of the drain inlet would cause trash to accumulate and clog the grate, preventing proper drainage and potentially creating a flood hazard. With approximately 61,000 drain inlets in Fort Wayne, maintenance crews would be unable to keep up with cleaning these devices, potentially creating flooding hazards; however, there are new technologies being developed in the form of filtration screening devices to be installed and inserted inside drain inlets. The City’s stormwater engineers are always evaluating these new technologies for possible future use.

Heavy metals, paint thinner, paint products, motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning products, human and animal feces, antifreeze, litter, and dead animals — these are just a few examples of the pollutants typically found in stormwater.

On a typical dry summer day, around one million gallons of water flows through the system. This flow comes from landscape irrigation runoff (primarily lawns), fire hydrant maintenance, and car washes throughout the region, just to name a few.

In a heavy rainstorm, this flow can increase to millions and millions of gallons a day, carrying hundreds of pollution sources.

There are many organizations in the Fort Wayne area and around the country that provide information about watersheds, stormwater quality, and what you can do to help protect rivers and streams.

Here are some links you may find helpful:

A watershed is an area of land where all of the stormwater runoff coming from the land all drains to a specific point. Watersheds can be large or small. No matter where you live, you live in a watershed.

Each of the rivers in the Fort Wayne area receives water from its own unique watershed. Fort Wayne’s rivers are part of bigger watershed systems. The St. Joseph, St. Mary’s and Maumee Rivers all eventually go to Lake Erie. They are part of the Lake Erie watershed. The Eel River in southwest Fort Wayne flows to the Wabash River which eventually goes to the Gulf of Mexico. So the Eel River is in the Gulf of Mexico watershed.

Because the City of Fort Wayne is located on three rivers, we have an historical relationship with the rivers and a commitment to help keep them clean.

A Stormwater BMP is a permanent constructed facility that cleans and treats stormwater before it enters our streams and rivers. To learn more, visit Catching Rain.

Curbside opening that collects rainwater from streets and serves as an entry point to the storm drain system.

The first big rain after an extended dry period (usually summer) which flushes out the accumulated pollutants in the storm drain system and carries them straight to the creeks and rivers.

The edge of a street (below the curb) designed to drain water runoff from streets, driveways, parking lots, etc. and channel it into storm drain inlets.

Common everyday products that people use in and around their homes-including paint, paint thinner, herbicides, and pesticides-that, due to their chemical nature, can be hazardous if not properly disposed.

The release or placement of any material other than rain water runoff or snowmelt into the stormwater conveyance system.

Any connection to the storm drain system that is not permitted: or any legitimate connection that is used for illegal discharge.

Pollution that does not come from a single, identifiable source. Includes materials that wash from roofs, streets, yards, driveways, sidewalks and other land areas – largest contributor of stormwater pollution.

A flow of water from one drainage system into a larger system, or into a body of water like a creek, river or lake.

Pollution from a single identifiable source such as a factory or a construction-site. Most of this pollution is highly regulated at the state and local levels.

Action to prevent pollution where it originates.

A network of underground pipes and open channels designed for flood control, which discharges straight to creeks and rivers.

Rainwater that enters the storm drain system and empties into rivers, lakes and streams.

Water from rain, irrigation, garden hoses or other activities that picks up pollutants (cigarette butts, trash, automotive fluids, used oil, paint, fertilizers and pesticides, lawn and garden clippings and pet waste) from streets, parking lots, driveways and yards and carries them through the storm drain system and straight to local creeks and rivers.