Downspout drainage plays a role in keeping our rivers clean

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — There are many different strategies when it comes to cleaning up our rivers and waterways. While natural wetlands and man-made rain gardens help to filter out debris from making the journey into our rivers, you can also do your part in your own backyard.

Many of the older homes and neighborhoods in the area have downspouts connected right into the sanitary sewer line. And one of those can be done in your own backyard, by diverting rainwater. When heavy rains occur the extra inflow of water robs the capacity of the sanitary pipes and that could lead to backups and sewage flowing not only into rivers and streams but into homes.

“You wanna make sure your downspouts are not connected to your sanitary sewer or just going into a pipe that goes underground and you don’t know where it’s at,” explained Nathan Baggett, an Engineer with City Utilities for the City of Fort Wayne, “Most of the sanitary sewers in your neighborhood are only about eight inches in diameter, they just simply weren’t made for that. So the idea is to get any water that falls from the sky or melts off during a snowmelt, you want to get that away from a sanitary sewer and into your storm sewers, your drains, your ditches.”

Once you disconnect your downspout from the sanitary sewer, Baggett recommends you divert the water to a grassy area several feet away from your home, so that it doesn’t have an impact on your foundation.

“If you get it into a grassy area, it’s a good thing too because that grass on the lawn will actually filter whatever was on your roof and filter some of those other things out before it hits our waterways,” added Baggett.

This summer the City of Fort Wayne is promoting everyone to “Be River SmART” with the painting of several murals that incorporate storm drains. More information on the mission to keep the rivers clean can be found here.

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