Trenton City Hall: 2800 Third St. Trenton, MI 48183 | Phone: (734) 675-6500 Fax: (734) 675-4088


Storm Water Public Education 


The River is Closer Than You Think!


Storm Water Runoff Pollution and what you can do to stop it.
Before you pour anything into the street gutter or down the storm drains, stop and think! Storm Drains go directly into drains and creeks...and through wetlands into the Detroit River and the Great Lakes.

You may not know...
Anything we use in our home, car and business like motor oil, paint, pesticides, fertilizers and cleaners can accidentally wind up in the street.

A little water from rain or a garden hose can carry automotive and household materials through the storm drain polluting rivers, wetlands and the Great Lakes. Storm drains are there to drain water off the streets and yards-not for disposal of hazardous materials.

Where does it go?
These pollutants within our watershed flow with storm water through the sewer system into creeks and drains and outfall into the Trenton Channel and Lake Erie. This type of pollution is called Storm Water Runoff Pollution and can be a major source of pollutants in our waterways that endanger wildlife, recreational use, and drinking water.

What is a Watershed?
A watershed is a geographical area bounded by high elevation lines. Any rain water falling into this geographical area will travel overland, into storm sewers, creeks, drains, rivers, and ultimately into Lake Erie. Any runoff water in a watershed has no means to enter a neighboring watershed. The City of Trenton sheds water into the Blakely Drain, Frank and Poet Drain and the Trenton Channel. Both drains empty into Lake Erie in the City of Gibraltar.

What is Storm Water Runoff Pollution?
Storm water runoff refers to seasonal rainfall flows and snowmelts in the spring. It is very noticeable during a heavy rain storm when large volumes of water drain off paved areas. Runoff pollution can happen anytime of the year when excessive water use from irrigation, car washing and other sources carries trash, lawn clippings and other urban pollutants into storm drains. Even automobiles leaking motor oil 20 miles inland can still pollute the lakes.

How is it different from other forms of water pollution?
Storm Water Runoff Pollution can include anything that washes into the storm drain from the community. Unlike water pollution linked to factories or sewage treatment plants; this type can come from city streets, neighborhoods, farms, construction sites and parking lots.

Storm Water Runoff Pollution comes from:

  • Automotive leaks and spills.
  • Disposal of used oil and other engine fluids down the storm drain.
  • Metals in vehicle exhaust, paint, rust, metal plating and tires.
  • Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers from lawns, gardens and farms.
  • Improper disposal of cleaners, paint and paint removers.
  • Soil erosion and dust debris from landscape and construction activities.
  • Trash, lawn clippings, animal waste and other organic matter.
  • Oil stains on parking lots and paved surfaces.

The waterways of the Great Lakes begin in front of your home at the storm drains. The City's Storm Sewer and Drainage System are the uppermost part of the waterway and a major source of fresh water for the lakes.

Home Maintenance
Buy household products such as cleaners and furniture polish labeled "non-toxic". Use small quantities and purchase only the amount you need.

Properly use and store all toxic products, including cleaners, solvents and paints. Use up paint cleaners and other products or share leftovers with a neighbor.

Take household hazardous materials and containers to a hazardous material collection center.

Use kitty litter or other absorbent materials to clean spills. Depending on the substance, dispose absorbents in the trash can or at a hazardous materials collection center.

Rinse water based paint brushes in the sink. Filter and reuse paint thinner or brush cleaners. Dispose of used thinner, oil and latex paint at a hazardous materials collection center.

Reycle reusable materials. Throw litter into trash cans and keep cans tightly covered to prevent foraging by animals.

Lawn and Garden

Use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers in accordance with label instructions. Do not apply before rain and dispose leftovers at a hazardous materials collection center.

Use a broom rather than a hose to clean up garden clippings. Put leaves and clippings in a yard waste receptacle or a compost pile.

Divert rain spouts and garden hoses from paved surfaces onto grass to allow water to filter through the soil. Water only your lawn and garden. Caution! Do not use this suggested action in areas with steep slopes.

Pick up animal waste and dispose in the trash can.

Take used motor oil and antifreeze to gas stations that accept recyclable automotive fluids, or to a hazardous materials collection center. Did you know that dumping one quart of motor oil down a storm drain contaminates 250,000 gallons of water?

Have your car maintained regularly to prevent oil, antifreeze and other fluid leaks.

Reduce automotive emissions through routine auto maintenance, ride sharing and public transportation.

Conserve water when washing your car and use biodegradable soap. Clean engines at a "Do It Yourself Car Wash" where the drainage is not connected to the storm drain.

You can control pollution by supporting city and county activities to keep your streets clean. You can help by participating in recycling, river clean-ups, and the proper disposal of hazardous materials.

Separate Sanitary Sewers
In the past, sanitary and storm water flows were combined in one sewer system. This water all went to a treatment plant and was discharged into the river and lake system after proper treatment. Due to the costs involved in treating water, the sewer systems have been separated into two systems.

The sanitary system, which picks up bathroom, kitchen and utility drains, continues to flow to a treatment plant which the City of Trenton owns, maintains, and operates. The storm water system, which should only be catching fresh rain water from roofs, paved areas, and green belt areas, now flows directly to creeks and rivers. Consequently, any illicit material put into the storm sewers will flow directly into our waterways.

The City Building Code and Ordinance require every home or business to be connected to the sanitary sewer system. Septic fields are not permitted within the City of Trenton.

Recreational Vehicle
The sanitary waste, dark water, or "honey wagon" from an RV should never be dumped down a storm drain. A proper RV dump station should be used.

In the City of Trenton, the Marathon gas station at the northwest corner of Van Horn Rd and West Jefferson Ave has a Boat/RV wash and cleanout station. Like the "Do it Yourself Car Wash" mentioned above, the drainage at this location is not connected to the storm drain.

We are all stewards of the environment. It is not ours to use as we wish but for us to use for the benefit of all, including generations to come. Maintenance and the improvement of our waterways is the responsibility of everyone so that our impact does not cause harm for the future.

Since many businesses and residents are unaware of the storm water runoff problem, encourage neighbors and co-workers to be careful in not polluting the storm drain system.

Everyone needs to participate in order to keep our waterfronts, wetlands, and rivers clean. You, your neighbors and the City, working together, can make a difference.

Ownership of the Storm System
The City of Trenton owns, operates, and maintains the storm sewer and public drainage system within the City. Regular cleaning & repairs as well as upgrades when needed are required to keep the system functioning properly and reduce the amount of sedimentation and pollution entering the waterways.

We have a Certificate of Coverage under a jurisdictional permit for separated storm water municipal discharge from the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Also, the City has a Storm Water Phase II permit from the Michigan Depart of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). As such, we are required to educate the public about our watershed, storm water runoff and where storm water and pollutants ultimately discharge into the lake system. A Public Education Program (PEP) has been put into effect in order to achieve these goals.

Report Pollution
Now that you have a better understanding of where pollution can come from and what causes it, you can help to reduce pollution by reporting problem areas. The sooner these problems are reported the sooner they can be eliminated and reduce the impact to the environment.

Contact the City of Trenton Engineering Department ((734) 675-8251) to share ideas, ask questions, or to report pollution. The Wayne County Department of Environment (WCDOE) also has a 24 hour Hotline (888-223-2363) to report illicit discharges, spills, pollution, etc.

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