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Residents Encouraged To Report Illicit Stormwater Discharges

Released April 13, 2023 12:15 PM

The City of Alpharetta is reminding residents and businesses that stormwater drains are for water only and should not be used to dispose of grass clippings and yard waste, used oil, household chemicals, or other substances.


“What a lot of people do not realize is that whatever goes into a storm drain ends up in Alpharetta’s creeks and streams,” said Pete Sewczwicz, the City’s director of public works.  “Unlike sanitary sewer systems that send everything to a central facility where the water goes through an extensive filtration and cleaning process, stormwater flows through pipes that go directly to waterways and carries with it everything else that ends up in the system.  If someone dumps something like used motor oil into a storm drain, that oil is going into a stream that flows through someone else’s yard and in which their kids may play.”


Grass clippings, leaves, and other yard debris poses another problem.  Those materials clog the system of pipes and drains that collect water during rain events, which leads to flooding of streets and properties.


“Most of the debris that we remove from our stormwater system is yard waste like grass clippings and leaves that residents and landscapers have put down storm drains,” Sewczwicz said.  “We spend a lot of time and tax money every year clearing that from the system to prevent flooding.”


Anything other than water that goes into the stormwater system is termed an “illicit discharge,” and the City encourages residents to report any such activity when they see it.  To make that easy, Alpharetta provides two means for reporting illicit discharges available on the their website and has recently release a video explaining how to identify illicit discharges and use the website reporting tools.  The video is available at