Problems THAT Hinder the System

As stated earlier, the storm water drainage system is supposed to ONLY carry storm water. Without it, there would be nothing to direct the flow of storm water away from our business and homes. With such a large City and such an important system hidden from sight, many residents are unaware of its existence or purpose.  In part, this is great because that means that, overall, it is functioning well. But the storm water drainage system can get clogged when items other than storm water enter it. Only rain is supposed to go down the storm drain. But when you see a storm drain in Memphis, it typically looks like this;

These pollutants (typically trash, yard waste, sediment (i.e. dirt), and sometimes paint and oil can unintentionally be carried to the storm drain during a rain event or they can be intentionally placed into the storm water drainage system. Directly putting a pollutant into the storm water drainage system is a direct violation of City Ordinance 4538. Pollutants impair the quality of surrounding natural water bodies that storm water discharges into. Pollutants also affect the function of the storm water drainage system by corroding or clogging it, thus disrupting the flow of the storm water. It is up to us to keep our City clean to avoid this.

concrete ditch

concrete ditch

Our pollutants have global impact. Memphis’ surrounding waterbodies discharge into the Mississippi River and the Mississippi River discharges into the Gulf of Mexico. These contaminates add up! Aside of the obvious water quality and aquatic life issues this presents, these waters are a drinking water and recreational source for other Cities. Beaches have been shut down when unsafe due to storm water contamination. 


Remember only rain should go down the storm drain!

Gurgle Factoid!

Do you know of a storm drain that needs maintenance or repair? Contact our Drain Maintenance Department (901-357-0100) or the Mayor Citizen’s Service Center (3-1-1) to place a service request.

the City of Memphis
Storm Water
Drainage System

Memphis has two separate underground systems: the storm water drainage system and the sanitary sewer system. The sanitary sewer system carries used “wastewater” from homes and businesses to a waste water treatment facility where it is cleaned and then discharged into the Mississippi River. The storm water drainage system carries ONLY rain water and it is discharged WITHOUT treatment into a nearby waterbody.