Q1. Is it okay to wash my car on the driveway if I use a biodegradable soap? 

Answer: When washing your car at home, pull it up on the lawn or a graveled area where water will leach into the ground instead of flowing into the street gutter and the storm drains. Always use biodegradable soaps when washing a vehicle and conserve as much water as possible. Shut off water while washing your car, then rinse. One option is to have vehicles cleaned at a commercial car wash where wastewater flows through sand and oil traps.

Q2. Are sewers and storm drains the same things? 

Answer: Sewers and storm drains are two completely different drainage systems. Sewers carry wastewater from such things as washing machines, sinks, toilets, and showers to a treatment plant to be cleaned prior to being discharged into the North Platte River. The storm drain system collects rainwater and carries it all directly to our local waterways with no treatment. 

Q3. What is a catch basin or storm drain? 

Answer: A catch basin or storm drain is a curbside drain with the sole function of collecting rainwater from our properties and streets and sending it through underground piping to our local waterways. Storm drains can also be found in parking lots and serve the same purpose. In county and city areas, that water never goes to the sewer treatment plant to be cleaned, but flows directly into our creeks and river untreated. 

Q4. Why should I worry about leaves and grass clippings, after all they are natural? 

Answer: Grass, leaves and yard clippings are swept into catch basins can clog the drain, causing localized flooding and become a potential breeding ground for rodents and insects. Additionally, when this material reaches our creeks and river, it decomposes and robs the surrounding water of oxygen. The cumulative affect of numerous residents putting leaves, grass and yard clippings into the street gutter or storm drain can be overwhelming. It can turn clean stormwater into a rotten, black, stinky soup that then enters our creeks and river. 

Q5. How does pet waste left on the grass affect stormwater? 

Answer: Pet waste can be picked up by snow melt or rain as it travels into the street gutter and down the storm drain, carrying with it bacteria and other harmful materials into our creeks and streams. The dog population is the Casper area is estimated to be 11, 000 animals, creating nearly 2.5 tons of solid waste every day. Even though you can't see it, the fecal coliform contained in pet waste can have a cumulative affect with hundreds if not thousands of people sending their pet waste into the stormwater. Stormwater is not treated, so this material flows directly into our creeks and river. The North Platte River is the source of our drinking water. Disposing of pet waste properly is helps keep our creeks and river safe. 

Q6. Why doesn't the City of Casper clean out all of the storm drains before a storm? 

Answer: City crews clean out clogged catch basins throughout the year as part of ongoing maintenance. Unfortunately, there are just too many catch basins and not enough time. Residents can reduce flooding in their neighborhoods by keeping material out of the storm drain system or clean debris around catch basins when performing landscape maintenance. 

Q7. What do I do if I see someone dumping trash, paint, pesticides or anything else in the storm drain?

Answer: To report the problems call the stormwater hot line at 235.8481.  Dumping trash, pollutants and debris in the catch basins is illegal; it may be considered a federal violation of the Clean Water Act of 1972, as well as against state and local laws. A neighbor may not understand the catch basin's direct connection to the North Platte River and all of our other waterways. It may be just a matter of making them aware of the impact to our community and our drinking water. City staff would be more than happy to provide information to your neighbor. 

Q8. What can I do to make a difference at home? 

Answer: You can make a huge difference in stormwater quality by simply following these guidelines at home. 1) Wash your car on the lawn, 2) Mulch your grass clippings and leave on the lawn, 3) Sweep dirt from your driveways and sidewalks onto the lawn, pick up debris and put in the trash, 4) pick up your pet waste; flush in the toilet or bag and put in the dumpster, 5) use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly and always follow the suggested application rate, never apply chemicals before a rain, 6) take left over paint, used oil, left over chemicals to the Special Waste and Diversion Facility at the balefill landfill. Check out our publications for more tips. Remember, we all live downstream. 

Q9. What is stormwater? 

Answer: Stormwater is rain, melting snow, or other forms of precipitation that fall on our land, ranches, and businesses. The excess moisture that drains from our yards, driveways, roofs and property is called stormwater. Like rainwater, stormwater starts out as clean water. As stormwater flows it can pick up pollutants and carry them untreated, directly into our creeks and river. Stormwater is never treated. 

Q10. Why should I care what goes down the storm drain? 

Answer: Everyone should be concerned about storm water quality because what we put down the storm drain will eventually end up in places like Garden Creek, Elkhorn Creek, Wolf Creek, Squaw Creek, Sage Creek, Eastdale Creek, and the North Platte River; the source of our drinking water. 

Q11. Do catch basins and storm drains get cleaned out? 

Answer: Yes, The City of Casper regularly performs maintenance activities including cleaning of the storm drain system. In addition, the City of Casper crews are always available to respond to emergency situations where clogged drains result in localized flooding. 

Q12. What kinds of pollutants are found in the storm drain system? 

Answer: Human and animal feces, paint thinner and paint products, motor oil, pesticides, trash, paper, antifreeze, leaves, grass clippings, cooking oil, clothes, tennis shoes, shopping carts, tires, dirty diapers, and plastic containers are but a few of the pollutants found in the system. All of this flows directly into our creeks and river untreated. 

Q13. Why doesn't the City of Casper install filters or screens in front of the catch basins or a barrier at the end of the channel? 

Answer: It sounds like a good idea, but during a rainstorm, debris (e.g. leaves, sticks, trash) is quickly swept to the catch basin and any screen or filtration device placed in front of the catch basin would clog the grate and result in flooding.  Pollutants like bacteria from pet waste, used oil, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. are also too small to be caught in a barrier. 

Q14. How can I properly dispose of left-over paints, thinners, chemicals, car batteries, used oil, etc.? 

Answer: Left-over paints, thinners, chemicals, car batteries, used oil and other household hazardous waste should be taken to the Special Waste and Diversion Facility located at the City of Casper Balefill facility, just off Metro Road, and is open to all citizens of Natrona County. There is no charge for dropping off waste.