Only Rain Down the Drain

Keep our wetlands pollutant free.

HeartLands Conservancy partnered with Madison County last month to host an event promoting the concept of Only Rain Down the Drain. The goal was to educate students and citizens about the importance of not dumping in your storm drains.

People don’t always realize that we usually have two kinds of sewer systems. One system is the sanitary sewer which connects our homes and businesses to the treatment plants that clean our wastewater. Storm sewers are often an entirely different system with their own pipes that normally don’t connect to the sanitary system.

Storm sewers are used to carry storm water and excess rainfall when we have heavy rain. This water that falls on our communities has to go somewhere, and if we have enough natural spaces it can just seep into the soil and recharge our groundwater.

In more densely populated areas with a lot of concrete surfaces, the rain can no longer pass through and must be carried away through our storm sewers to prevent or minimize flooding in our communities. But unlike sanitary sewers, which carry water to a treatment plant, storm sewers only go to the nearest body of water like a river, lake, or stormwater pond. The water that enters these drains is not treated. 

Any pollutants we pour down the storm drains, like motor oil or paint, will end up in our lakes and rivers, causing harm to the environment.

In this event we used non-toxic paint to roll on some stencils near storm drains in Collinsville. These labels are there to help remind people that only rain should go down the drain.