Individuals & Families

What are some steps you can take to improve storm water quality and how do these steps help? Click below to learn about residential storm water pollution preventions steps!

Yard Maintenance and Yard Waste Disposal

If you choose to use pesticides and lawn fertilizers, use them properly! More is NOT better! Additional amounts that you apply are carried into surrounding waterbodies with storm water runoff and impair waterways. Cover manure stockpiles.

Properly dispose of your yard waste! Bag or mulch it. Don’t place or blow it into the street, storm drains, ditches, or waterways. The yard waste clogs the storm water drainage system when improperly placed. If the system is clogged, storm water will not flow off streets and property properly during rain events. Additionally, it can be detrimental to water quality by altering the physical substrate of watercourses and by impacting dissolved oxygen levels as it decomposes. Dissolved oxygen is the concentration of free oxygen in the water that has not been chemically combined and it vital for aquatic life to survive.  Directly placing yard waste into the storm water drainage system or waterbodies is against the law (ordinance 4538).

Improper Trash and Pet Waste Disposal

Properly dispose of your trash! Keeping your trash contained is a huge step! Trash washes down the storm water drainage system and into waterways. It is piling up into a big problem and causes a lot of harm to the waterbodies and the life around them. Directly placing trash into the storm water drainage system or waterbodies is against the law (ordinance 4538).

Don’t flick it! Did you know cigarette butts are the most littered item in America and oceans worldwide? They get there because they are small and easily carried by storm water runoff to surrounding waters that eventually discharge into oceans. And they are not biodegradable. The plastic acetate filters take many years to decompose, slowly releasing toxins from the cigarettes during that process. They can also be eaten by animals and cause illness. They are litter and a BIG problem.

Properly dispose of pet waste! Did you know that unless an animal only eats vegetation, the waste is not manure. Dog and cat waste is part of a large problem in the City. So maybe you only have one dog. If that were the only dog in the City, we wouldn’t have a problem. But Memphis has MANY pets and that waste piles up into a large storm water concern. Pet waste contains multiple types of bacteria. E.Coli is a common and hazardous bacteria found in fecal waste. Storm water picks up bacteria from pet waste and carries it to our storm water drainage system and our waterways. The bacteria in fecal waste can make water unsafe by contaminating it. So please pick up after your pet! It is the law to pick-up after your dog when you are walking it. You can request a dog waste pickup bag dispenser from our office for your use or an informational lawn sign to place in your yard to make others aware.

Improper Chemical, Fat, Oil, & Grease Disposal

Be mindful about chemical storage and disposal! Examples of chemicals that you may find around your home are vehicle maintenance fluids, cleaning products, and paint. Some containers, such as paint cans, can rust and leak easily. If placed outside, it may be too late before you realize the problem. Place them in a sturdy plastic-type bin so that leaks are contained. Make sure that you do not pour used chemical products, or wastewater containing them, onto the ground, driveway, street, storm drains, ditches, or waterways. Directly placing these materials into the storm water drainage system or waterbodies is against the law (ordinance 4538).

Properly dispose of cooking fats, oils, and greases (FOG).  These products should never be poured down a household sink. FOG clings to pipes beneath your house and in the City’s sanitary sewer system. Over time, this FOG can build up and block the pipes causing overflows that can discharge sewage into your home, neighborhood, and area lakes, rivers, and streams. The sewage is not only a health hazard to the neighborhood but it can also enter the City’s storm water drainage system.  Storm water flows from the inlets through the storm water drainage system and discharges into our surrounding waterbodies and eventually the Mississippi River. Sewage transported by storm water poses a threat to fish and other aquatic life in these water bodies.

Vehicle Maintenance & Fluid Disposal

Keep your vehicle maintained! Leaking fluids onto streets, parking lots, and driveways get washed into surrounding waterbodies with storm water runoff. Directly placing these materials into the storm water drainage system or waterbodies is against the law (ordinance 4538).

If possible, wash your car at a car wash that discharges the used water into the sanitary sewer system or on your lawn.

Home Improvements

Home improvements can have a lot of variables which affect storm water quality. If you are constructing and disturbing the land, reduce excavated dirt. Finish landscaping work quickly and ensure you have all the proper permits necessary. Sediment/dirt is actually one of the most stream impairing pollutants. Soil has many different chemical properties and is easily transported by storm water. It alters watercourses and impairs waterbodies.

Storm Water Management Structures

Sometimes residents have a storm water management structure on their property. If there is a storm water management structure on your property, please refer to our post-construction runoff control section.

As a general rule remember; don’t pour anything into a storm drain! Directly placing anything other than storm water into the storm water drainage system is against the law unless exempted by the storm water ordinances. Be mindful of the problem and report violations to your City of Memphis Storm Water Department!

BIGGER STEPS- Go above and beyond!

Plant and properly maintain a garden. Plants, especially native foliage, are a natural part of the water cycle. They filter pollutants in storm water. A special type of garden is a rain garden. It is specially designed to filter storm water runoff. You can read more about rain gardens in our rain garden section. They are a very valuable asset to storm water quality when properly maintained and installed.

Collect rain water in barrels. You can use barrels to collect rain water from rooftops and you can use that rain water to water your lawn or garden. This decreases storm water runoff. Just make sure the barrels are mosquito-proof containers.

There are items like permeable pavement that you can use. This will allow more storm water to be absorbed and filtered through the ground.

Consider green roofs. When properly installed and maintained, a green roof is a very valuable asset to enhance storm water quality.