As we start on gardens and finish up with our outdoor spring cleaning, one task that is often overlooked is cleaning out our drainage swales and storm drain inlets. Every year trillions of dangerous bacteria and tons of fertilizer and trash reach our local streams every year by way of street-side storm drains. This has a big impact on groundwater, wildlife and public health, but is can be alleviated through simple maintenance.
Many properties have shallow channels in the yards called drainage swales which allow storm water to pass through on its way to a storm drain inlet, larger ditch or stream. It is each property owner’s responsibility to maintain these swales by clearing out any debris, limbs or leaves which may accumulate in them.
The Indiana drainage law states that we must allow surface water to drain across our properties as it follows its natural topographic direction. You should never pile leaves or limbs in swales nor build any structures over the top of them.
If your yard contains a storm water inlet, or if you have a storm drain along the curb in front of your property, it is also your responsibility to keep those cleaned off so that leaves and debris do not keep stormwater from entering the drain. If you have a ditch along the road in the front of your property be sure to keep it cleaned out also.
Maintaining our drainage facilities is also vitally important to alleviating flooding problems and keeping mosquitos at bay.
For more information on improving drainage view the Storm Drainage Responsibilities brochure from the Indiana Department of Public Works.