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Information on Maintaining Our Drainage System

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How can I get my creek ditch cleaned?
Need information on contract mowing?
How often are catch basins cleaned?
How do we improve streams?
Keeping our streams clean and flowing are important to the overall health of our waterways. MSD policies encourage the preservation of natural vegetation and trees as helpful to water quality, erosion control, removal of pollutants from run-off, and preservation of natural wildlife habitats. Interested in learning how you can help?

Definition of the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains:

  1. The functions associated with the natural or relatively undisturbed floodplain that moderate flooding, retain waters, reduce erosion and sedimentation, and mitigate the effects of storms; and
  2. Ancillary beneficial functions, including maintenance of water quality, recharge of ground water and provision of fish and wildlife habitat.

Following is information about dumping, flooding, and stream maintenance.

To report drainage problems, illegal dumping, or construction activity in a floodplain call 587-0603.

No Littering: Street litter, such as plastic bags, paper, and cups often are swept away with rainwater, entering into storm drains and eventually ending up in the streams and later, rivers. A great deal of litter is plastic. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down. Recycle as much of trash as possible and put all litter in garbage cans. Never throw trash in the street or down a storm drain. If you see trash on the ground, pick it up and toss it in the nearest trashcan.

Grass Clippings, Leaves, and Fill: Brush, grass clippings, and leaf debris can easily cause flooding. Dumping of material can restrict the stream and force water to back-up behind debris. This can cause the water to overflow stream banks and ditches and flood upstream areas or your neighborhood.

Grass clippings and leaves also can "choke out" the plants and animals within the stream. Never dump grass and leaf litter into a ditch or a stream. When the grass and leaf material break down it can increase nutrients, decrease oxygen, and cause death of aquatic organisms. The result is a degraded stream with reduced biodiversity.

Illegal Dumping: Illegal dumping of chemicals, household products, garbage, septic waste, commercial waste, industrial waste, and yard waste can create impacts in streams.

Illegally dumped or discharged waste can frequently produce impacts to plants and animals. Organic waste and yard waste can also stimulate bacteria and algae, causing rapid growth in populations, and resulting in reduced oxygen levels in the water. Dumped materials also may draw undesirable animals; create foul odors, and present physical dangers to wildlife and people.

Oil/Antifreeze: Motor oil and antifreeze contaminates water and can damage or kill plants and animals. Never pour used motor oil or antifreeze down a storm drain, on to the soil, or into a waterway. Put used oil or antifreeze in a sturdy container and take it to a recycling center.

Hundreds of chemical spills occur annually in the Louisville metropolitan area. However, with 24-hour response and required spill control plans, environmental impacts are greatly reduced.

Animal Waste Collection: Animal wastes contribute significantly to the number of bacteria and organic matter in storm water runoff. This problem is particularly serious because the wastes are deposited directly into the streams. Animal wastes can be controlled by the collection and removal of the waste from curbsides, yards, parks, roadways, and other areas where the waste can be washed directly into streams.

Ditch Cleaning/Mowing: MSD cleans public drainage facilities of trash, litter, debris or siltation which causes an obstruction, has the potential to cause an obstruction, or which otherwise interferes with the proper functioning of the facility. If MSD decides that the trash, litter, or debris does not interfere, or have the potential to interfere with drainage, removal requests may be referred to Louisville Metro, or the Board of Health for appropriate litter ordinance enforcement.

Routine Mowing Program: MSD's Maintenance Division maintains a map of improved channels, which are included in the Routine Mowing Program. These channels are typically mowed 2 to 4 times a year. Improved channels included in the program, which are located in residential areas, may be mowed 3 to 4 times per year. Improved channels in the program, which are located in commercial areas, may be mowed 1 to 2 times per year. Typically, MSD's Maintenance Division hires outside contractors for assistance. As a part of this program, MSD will identify channels that can be included in no-mow zones.

Last Updated: February 28, 2012

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