As you travel around the County, you cannot help but pass one of our 10,000+ storm drains. These drains provide an opportunity for water to leave the street, enter a pipe network, and eventually be released into the closest stream. There is no “treatment” within the storm drain system, meaning that anything that goes down the storm drain goes directly to our streams – litter, oil, bacteria, mud, sand, leaves, etc. That is why you’ll see the storm drain markers with the slogan “Only rain down the drain,” because we don’t want these pollutants to reach our streams.
Our office has recently received several questions about storm drains, so today’s Natural Arlington blog is dedicated to addressing these questions.
Question: I’d like to have a grate installed on the storm drain in front of my home. How would I go about having that done?
Permanent obstructions, including grates, may not be installed in front of any of the County’s storm drains. Why? Because storm drains are strategically located where water flows and/or collects during storms. The drains in these locations help protect public safety and property by removing water that could cause cars to hydroplane and general flooding in the area. If a grate or other obstruction is placed in front of a storm drain and is blocked by leaves, litter or any other debris, the street in front of the storm drain could flood during a storm.
If there is an emergent situation where a blocked storm drain is causing flooding to a property or to the road, call 703-228-6555 to report the issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Question: There is construction occurring on my street and I’ve seen some things placed in front of the storm drain. Why are these things there, and how is this different from the restrictions described in the question above?
Construction projects, whether in the right-of-way or on private property, are not supposed to discharge pollutants into the storm drain network. One of the key pollutants that they are trying to remove from runoff is sediment. An “inlet protection device” is installed in front of the storm drain to filter the runoff from the site. The guidelines for inlet protection are set by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
There are a variety of inlet protection options. Some are assembled by the contractor (like the one in the photo to the right) and others are purchased from vendors (example devices on this link are just that – examples – and should not be interpreted as recommended options). The devices are designed to allow water to flow through them while catching and retaining the pollutants. The construction manager and/or contractor is responsible for regularly checking and maintaining the inlet protection to ensure that it isn’t clogged and is properly working, especially when rain is in the forecast. The inlet protection is temporary and can be removed or replaced as needed.
If a resident notices that the inlet protection device looks clogged and rain is scheduled in the near future, contact the construction project’s construction manager to report the issue. The contact information for the construction contacts are found on the project webpage. Not sure how to find the project webpage? Go to the County’s Projects page and search based on the project type and location.
Question: I have a group that would like to mark storm drains. How do we get started?
The County’s storm drain marking program operates in the late spring through early fall. Why the limited period? Because the glue requires warm temperatures and dry weather to properly affix to the concrete. The weather from mid-late fall through early spring tends to be fairly wet in our area and with the temperature dips, this isn’t a good time for groups to be out marking. If you are interested in volunteering to mark storm drains between May and October, email Jen McDonnell.