Spring Rains and Stormwater Drains

Henderson’s catch basins, or storm drains, on the side of the road funnel rainwater to Canoe Creek and to the Ohio River.  With spring showers already here, and more sure to come, it is important to remember that pollutants and debris washed into these basins when it rains are not usually carried to one of Henderson’s treatment plants for cleaning, but instead are conveyed to a nearby waterway.  Once in our creeks and rivers, chemicals, yard debris, litter and dirt can degrade the quality of the water we rely on for drinking water and recreation.  Basins and drains clogged by debris also can lead to storm water flooding that creates safety hazards and costly property damage.

Remember these tips to help protect public health, property and the environment:

  • Sweep grass clippings, leaves and other debris off the street and away from storm drains.
  • Properly dispose of all waste in trash receptacles or recycling bins.
  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly on your yard and landscaping.
  • Never dump, pour, or wash oil, chemicals, paint, yard debris, trash, or other substances down a storm drain.
  • When it snows, try to shovel ice and snow away from storm drains to maintain a clear opening.

Flooding is a natural and ever-present risk, but that risk is compounded by the roofs, roads and parking lots that keep water from soaking into the ground.  Instead, these and other impervious surfaces cause storm water runoff to travel over the land.  On the surface, storm water runoff can pick up pollutants, erode the soil and flood our neighborhoods.  When it makes its way into wastewater pipes through damaged lines or improper connections, or in the older combined sewer part of Henderson, it can overwhelm sanitary sewers and send sewage backing up into residents’ basements or spilling out into neighborhoods.

These are problems seen across the country, but HWU works to protect Henderson against them through innovative and cost-effective projects and programs.

Storm water management program

HWU works to maintain many miles of publicly owned storm sewers and thousands of associated storm structures, but managing storm water in Henderson requires more than simply maintaining pipe-in-the-ground infrastructure.  HWU’s storm water management program also plays a major role in reducing the risk of flooding in the region.

Storm water needs require prioritization

While it can be frustrating to experience periodic problems during wet weather, HWU must take a holistic approach to address storm water issues.  As a result, funding and improvements are prioritized based on the following factors to ensure maximum benefit for the community.

  • Risk to public health
  • Risk to sensitive areas
  • Magnitude of the problem

Henderson’s storm drainage system is more than just closed pipes, catch basins and culverts.  It also relies on a network of open conveyances, including ditches, ponds, swales and streams.  Both the open and closed infrastructure that make up our storm water control system may be owned and operated by either public or private entities.  Homeowners and local businesses are responsible for the storm drainage systems that convey storm water runoff solely from private property.  The city and HWU are responsible for maintaining roadside ditches, culverts, curb and gutter systems and storm catch basin grates.

Partially Clogged Stormwater Drain

The list below details some of the actions the city and HWU takes to help prevent flooding in neighborhoods and sewer backups in residents’ homes:

  • We clear grates of trash, leaves, ice or snow and any other debris before a rain event.  We also check them after the rain starts.  While a grate may be clear before an event, the rain may wash debris back over the grate which could cause flooding.
  • We identify hot spots (such as areas prone to flooding, culverts, grates, etc.) and perform frequent preventive inspection and maintenance.
  • We encourage homeowners not to dump debris, grass clippings, construction waste, trimmed tree branches or any other landscaping over hillsides or into wooded areas.  This debris will eventually end up in drainage ditches and creeks, which could block inlets or outfalls causing flooding.
  • When planning road reconstruction or resurfacing projects, we make sure that proper drainage designs are implemented.

Need help with a stormwater issue?  Call HWU at 270-826-2824 if there are any signs of storm system failure, such as pipes falling apart.  Our phones are answered 24/7 by a real live person.