Differences Between Storm Drains and Sewer Drains

Not all drains are created equal. To help keep water safe, it is important to know the difference between storm drains, and sewer drains. Let’s look at some important differences between these two types of drainage systems in your community.

Storm Drains

So, is a storm drain and sewer drain the same thing? Absolutely not. The easiest way to understand the difference between storm drains and sewer drains is to simply remember that all water outside your home is intended for storm drains, while all water inside your home is intended for sewer drains.

So, where does storm water go? The water that passes through storm drains is not treated. It is intended to move through pipe systems and eventually be discharged back into local water sources such as lakes, rivers, and ponds. This water eventually makes its way back to the ocean.  

The storm drain is an essential part of our overall water system. It is created to carry rainwater or runoff away from hard surfaces. The intention is to discourage flooding. When water moves through the storm drain system, it can pick up pollutants. This is unintentional, but because many areas in our communities are polluted with trash, pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides, paint, engine oil and other toxic substances, they often wind up in this water and are carried to nearby water sources.

We can help to protect the storm drain runoff by cutting down on the number of pollutants we put into the area. Be sure to dispose of common pollutants the proper way. All toxic materials and pollutants have proper handling systems. Be aware of how to properly dispose of any pollutant you come in contact with. This even includes your pet’s waste.

A good rule of thumb is to remember that only rainwater should go down the storm drain.

Sewer Drains

Sewer drains are used inside the home to carry away wastewater created inside the home by the people living there. This is a very different type of wastewater, and it is treated very differently than water in storm drains.

It is assumed that water from sewer drains will contain higher levels of bacteria and contaminants. This type of water will include water from toilets, showers, sinks, and laundry facilities. The water that passes through sewer systems is treated heavily in each community. This water must be treated before it continues through the water process. If it is not treated, it can cause lethal contamination in the community.

Even though this type of water is treated, it is also important to remember, there are certain things that should not go into the sewer drains as well.

When handling toxic substances, you need to check the safe handling instructions. These instructions will tell you where and how to dispose of the substance safely. Certain items, such as paint, engine oil, and other items, cannot go into sewer drains.