Tips for Maintaining Catch Basins

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Tips for Maintaining Catch Basins

Catch basins help keep sanitary sewer systems and streams free from solid debris, sediments, and pollutants. Water that pools in low areas runs into the catch basin through a grate. Sediment and debris sink to the bottom, while the water runs out an exit pipe into storm sewers, streams, or retention ponds. However, catch basins can cause problems—heavy rain can overwhelm the catch basin and cause it to overflow. Catch basins also can attract insects, especially mosquitos. If the pipes that run into or out of catch basins fail, they can cause sinkholes. These tips for maintaining catch basins can help property owners avoid these problems.

Reduce Debris and Waste

Reducing the amount of debris that gets into the basin in the first place can reduce the necessity of frequent cleaning. Keep the landscape free of leaves, twigs, trash, and grass clippings that could clog the grating on top of the catch basin. However, don’t blow clippings into streets, where they could wash directly into storm sewer systems. Store chemicals and hazardous wastes safely and out of the weather. Sweep parking lots and hardscapes regularly to keep dirt and gravel out of basins.

When and How to Clean the Catch Basin

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that property owners clean catch basins when the debris in the basin is at one-third the volume of the basin below the outlet pipe. To clean the basin, carefully remove the grate. Cast iron grates are heavy, so exercise caution when removing them. Wear boots with adequate toe protection.

If there is water standing in the basin, drain it by removing the water with a bucket. Professionals who perform these services may use specialized vacuum equipment on booms to remove water and debris. Water removed from a catch basin should go into a sanitary sewer or toilet.

Allow the solids at the bottom of the catch basin to dry out. A plastic catch basin may have a debris basket that helps prevent clogs and makes removing debris easier. If there is no basket, use a shovel to remove the dried debris. Dispose of the solid waste from the catch basin according to local waste regulations. Be mindful of the environment and what kind of pollutants the sediment in the basin may contain. In particular, find out if what is in there is classed as hazardous waste.

Observe these safety tips for maintaining catch basins:

  • Never leave an open grate unattended
  • Never climb into a catch basin
  • Add inserts and outlet traps to filter and remove floating pollutants. Replace them if worn or broken
  • Post “no dumping” signs to keep the basin free of pollutants
  • Flush the drainpipe with clean water after removing debris and cleaning the basin
  • Never pour toxic or caustic substances or petroleum products into a catch basin; do not put pet waste or other garbage in a catch basin. Toxins from these items can end up in streams, rivers or lakes

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  • Jeremy Lawlor