Public Works: ‘Storm sewers not for dumping’

T-R FILE PHOTO Shown is a city of Marshalltown storm sewer intake with “no dumping” applied in English and Spanish. City officials found it necessary to remind residents the intakes are for clean storm water only and not other substances or yard waste.

City of Marshalltown Public Works Director Justin Nickel has a simple request of residents: Do not dump grass, leaves or automotive and household by-products into city storm sewers.

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

Councilor-At-Large Bill Martin echoed Nickel’s concern at Monday night’s city council meeting.

“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,” he said.

Last year city staff used paint and stencils to apply “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,” Nickel said.

Grass and yard waste that enters the city’s storm water system and then into the Iowa River is considered a pollutant. Grass clippings are another major concern Nickel said, because they collect in the storm sewers and must be cleaned out.

City staff 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

The dumping of automotive or household products is also prohibited.

Last year Marshalltown police cited a resident for unlawful disposal of hazardous waste after she admitted to dumping a gas and oil mixture into a storm sewer. The offense is an aggravated misdemeanor. The defendant signed a summons agreeing to appear in court.

For more information, contact Nickel at 641-754-5734, or jnickel@marshalltown-ia.gov.


Contact Mike Donahey at

641-753-6611 or



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