Catch Basin Cleaning
Rainwater and snowmelt enter the Town's storm sewer system through grates in the street called “catch basins”. These drains are connected to underground pipes that discharge untreated stormwater into nearby brooks, rivers, ponds, and wetlands-- all tributaries to Long Island Sound. Motor oil, antifreeze, pet waste, cigarette butts, cleaning products, and fertilizers are all examples of pollutants washed by stormwater into catch basins and discharged into surface waters. These result in harm to marine life and can also cause shell-fishing restrictions, beach closings, and other issues.
Trash, sand, and leaves are problem items which accumulate in the bottom of catch basins but some of it can be cleaned out. Most people know garbage doesn't belong in storm drains, but few know sand & leaves are harmful. Though both are 'natural,' neither normally move far from their source in large volumes. So even if only small amounts enter a catch basin, when the content of many in a string are added together and released from a single outfall, the total-- far from its source-- can harm marine life.
Public Works' Roads & Streets Division conducts annual catch basin cleaning to help pollution prevention. They clean the storm drains on all roads within the Town except state & private roads. Using a vacuum or 'vac' truck (a 2003 Sterling LT-9500 Aquatech model), the crew inserts an 8” suction hose attached to the truck into the catch basin to remove debris. The truck has a payload capacity of 10 cubic yards and carries 1,000 gallons of water to loosen sediment. The catch basin is also inspected for broken grates or asphalt in need of repair. Roads & Streets maintains nearly 2,600 catch basins. The trucks move extracted content (called "residuals") to a collection area for periodic disposal. This is one way the Town helps area water quality. Below are ways YOU can too:
- Sweep and remove sand & litter from sidewalks and driveways to stop them from being washed into basins. Never hose them into the street or drains.
- Check your car for drips & oil leaks and fix them promptly. Use drip pans if necessary. Don’t hose leaks into a catch basin, instead use kitty litter or sand to absorb it and properly dispose of in your household garbage.
- Compost or mulch yard waste including grass cuttings. Don’t move near the street or sweep into catch basins. Leaves may be brought to the Transfer Station loose or in paper bags.
- Bring household chemicals such as insecticides, pesticide, paint, solvents, or used motor oil to Household Hazardous Waste collection events. Never pour onto the ground or in a catch basin.
- Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly; avoid applying before a rainstorm, and use organic, slow-release garden and yard fertilizers.
- If you see clogged catch basins, please report them for cleaning to Public Works at (860) 448-4083.
- If you see someone dumping anything into a catch basin, immediately report it to the DPW at (860) 448-4083.