Do you know the difference between a storm drain and a sewer? Storm drains are commonly found in gutters and have open grates to allow water in, while sewers are found in the street and are covered by steel manhole lids. Storm drains are designed to quickly carry rainwater or runoff away from hard, impermeable surfaces like our streets, parking lots, and driveways.
Sometimes these storm water pipes share the same space underground as sanitary sewer lines and while they may reside in the same place, their functions couldn’t be more different. Wastewater from inside your homes and businesses travels through sanitary sewer lines to the wastewater treatment plant, where it is properly treated and then returned to the environment. Water in the storm drain system is not treated and it travels through underground pipes, open ditches, and flood control channels directly to our local waterways.
Storm water never belongs in a sanitary sewer line and vice versa. Manhole covers should never be removed by the public. Removing manhole covers during times of flooding creates larger issues by placing stress on underground pipes, storm water/wastewater entering the incorrect system, and negatively impacting the community and environment.