City: ‘Storm sewers not for dumping’

Grass a major problem


City of Marshalltown Storm Water Coordinator Joel Chandler has a simple request of residents: Do not dump grass, automotive and household by-products into city storm sewers.

“The only thing going into storm sewers should be clean water,” Chandler said.

City staff have been applying “no dumping” in English and Spanish on storm sewer intakes as part of an outreach campaign.

“We must follow mandates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa Department of Natural Resources on storm water management,” Chandler said. “We are not trying to be a bully.”

Chandler’s supervisor — City Public Works Director Justin Nickel — has said at city council meetings that grass that does work its way into the Iowa River from the city’s storm water system is considered a pollutant.

Grass clippings are another major concern Chandler said, because they collect in the storm sewers and must be cleaned out.

“There is a city ordinance that prohibits mowing of grass clippings into the street that will work its way into storm sewers after a rain,” Chandler said. “And we follow up with offenders by first stopping at their property to have a one-on-one discussion. We also use door hangers if there is no one is at home. There is the potential for a fine or jail but we really don’t want to do that. Cultivating an effective outreach effort is our primary objective.”

Chandler clarified the difference between storm water sewers and sanitary sewers.

“Storm sewers are located at the curb — and sanitary sewers are identified by manholes in the center of the street,” Chandler said.

For more information, contact Chandler at 641-754-5734, or


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or