The Importance of Clean Storm Drains for our Environment
As we experience more severe storms, keeping our storm drains clear of debris and pollution is more important than ever for both us and our local watershed.
Storm drains provide a useful service by functioning as a drainage system. When it rains, they direct excess water away to help keep our yards, roads, and other areas from flooding. However, natural debris, such as leaves, branches, twigs, grass clippings, sand, sediment, as well as trash and pet waste, can get trapped on top of or enter storm drains.
For much of Westfield, our storm drains empty into the Rahway River Watershed, which encompasses 83 square miles, including parts of three New Jersey counties. There are potential environmental and pollution implications if collected debris makes its way into the storm drain system. Have you ever seen litter floating in a local stream? It quite possibly traveled there from a street in your neighborhood.
Natural debris can also be harmful to our watershed. Leaves, grass, and sediment contain phosphorus, and when too much phosphorus is present in our water, it can cause potentially dangerous algae blooms, turning the water green and smelly and lowering oxygen levels. This impacts the quality of water and harms plants and animals that live there.
The Town of Westfield has a comprehensive storm drain maintenance system, which includes ongoing clearing efforts and street sweeping by the Department of Public Works. Residents and businesses can help keep our local watershed clean by taking simple steps. It is important to do what you can around your home or business to prevent trash and other waste from getting into storm drains. Some of the more common things you can do include:
- Never dump anything down a storm drain.
- Pick up any loose trash you notice in your yard or the side of the road near your home or business. Based on the item, recycle, compost or dispose of it in the garbage.
- Collect grass, leaves and plant clippings for a compost pile instead of blowing them out into the street.
- Always keep a lid on trash cans and keep recycling in closed containers.
- If you ever see the storm drain clogged, as opposed to merely covered by debris, call the Department of Public Works or report it on the Westfield Connect mobile app. Never attempt to go inside a storm drain.
- Consider volunteering to adopt a drain in town!
Westfield’s Adopt-A-Drain Program
Westfield's Department of Public Works, in partnership with the Green Team, is proud to be the first municipality in New Jersey to offer an online adopt-a-drain program. In fact, Westfield was recently asked to present the program at NJ Clean Communities’ annual convention as a potential model to be implemented in other local municipalities. Of course, our dedicated DPW team continues to perform regular maintenance of these drains, but with over 3,000 of them throughout Town, this program aims to supplement their efforts as needed.
You can adopt storm drains easily online and select one that’s nearby your home, school, business or a location you frequent. It’s easy to do with garden tools you already own and only takes a few minutes. In the first two years of the program alone, 260 drains were adopted, and an estimated 1,178 pounds of debris were cleared.
To volunteer or learn more about Westfield’s Adopt-a-Drain program, visit westfieldnj.gov/adoptadrain, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.