125,000 Gallons of Pollutants Removed from Storm Drains: What Does this Tell Us?

November 20, 2020
Posted in News
November 20, 2020 Seventy1 Environmental

Last year, our techs pulled over 125,000 gallons of pollutants from the storm drains of properties we service in Southern California. Cigarette butts, trash, plastic, dead animals, beer cans, old toys, discarded purses and soccer balls are just some of the items that were removed and disposed of properly.

Stormwater filtration systems, also known as Best Management Practices or BMPs, capture trash, debris and other solids as they are carried from paved surfaces to the storm drain system via runoff. Filter media inside of these systems are able to collect heavy metals, gasoline and oils. Without these filtration systems in place, all of that pollution could have instead ended up in our waterways.

Exterior of unfiltered curb inlet (above) with the trash and debris that flowed into inlet (below). Unlike sewage, stormwater is not treated before it passes into our waterways.

The curb and grate inlets you see in parking lots and on roadways lead to our streams, our rivers and our ocean. While many inlets are outfitted with filtration systems, many more are not, so what goes down the drain could very well end up in the water at your favorite place to swim or fish.

Bottles and cans entering the storm drain.

 Dead rodent, litter and debris inside of a filtration insert installed on a curb inlet.

 An unknown substance was poured down the storm drain.

 Someone actually poured paint down the storm drain.

Cigarette butts, grit and motor oils on their way to the ocean.

Stormwater BMPs are effective at capturing pollutants, but are not an end-all solution to stormwater pollution. The mere fact that our techs removed that amount of trash and cigarettes during the course of last year raises the question of why these pollutants are on the roadways, parking lots and sidewalks of our communities in the first place.