The Surface Water Utility inspects and maintains stormwater infrastructure to ensure that water keeps flowing, flooding is reduced, and water quality is improved. You may see Surface Water staff:

  • Inspecting the outfall of a local lake
  • Clearing invasive plants from a regional facility
  • Inspecting the drainage system near your home

City staff looking in to open manhole inspecting stormwater drainage.

Inspections

The Utility inspects stormwater drainage systems on public and private property to ensure the system is functioning properly and comply with federal permits and state laws. The Utility inspects the following public drainage systems:

  • City facilities and parks
  • Ditches and catch basins in and along streets
  • Stormwater facilities such as ponds and dams 

Private Drainage Systems Inspections and Maintenance

Property owners should inspect and maintain their storm drainage system at least yearly and clean debris, sediment, and vegetation as needed, especially after major storms. The Utility verifies that these systems are being maintained by inspecting them on an annual or biennial basis. These inspections notify property owners of maintenance issues that may cause flooding, pollution, and become a potential liability to the owner. 

Use these links to learn more about maintaining your storm drainage system:

For questions on maintenance of your storm drain system, contact Melissa Ivancevich at (206) 801-2453. Technical assistance is available for small businesses through the Business Pollution Prevention program.


Dump truck with ditch digger equipment clearing out a grassy ditch.

Maintenance 

The Utility maintains the public drainage system to maintain good water conveyance and overall system function. This involves repairing catch basins, clearing ditches, cleaning pipes and even using goats to maintain vegetation! 

Ditches - The City performs ditching activities during the summer months. Filling of ditches is not generally permitted. Please see the Administrative Order pertaining to ditch filling. For questions on maintenance of your ditch contact Chris Berrington at (206) 801-2456. Some benefits of ditches include:

  • Cost effective
  • Provides large catchment area for heavy rains
  • Infiltrates water back into the soil
  • Sediment is caught in the ditch and not deposited in local streams and lakes

Catch Basins and Pipes - The City maintains catch basins and pipes in the Right-of-Way and at City / Regional facilities. Cleaning helps:

storm drain with water
  • Manage large storms
  • Keep polluted sediment out of streams and lakes
  • Maintain good flow
  • Stay in compliance with laws and regulations
  • Photo of the inside of a drainage pipe showing roots damage.

Maintenance is needed when:

  • Basins are not draining or draining slowly
  • The basin becomes lopsided due to failing cement 
  • Plant growth is inhibiting
    flow or drainage 

Tree roots can block pipes              

Vegetation Management - The City uses goats to control vegetation at some surface water facilities. Animals rotate between sites based on each site's vegetation maintenance needs. Use the links below to see where the goats may be during the growing season:

Goats eating vegetation on a hillside.

Goats at work on steep hillside

Two baby goats and mother.Two baby goats

Kids born on the job in 2013