Difference Between Storm Drains and Sewers

Water gushing from storm sewer following very heavy rainfall of the road after heavy rain.

You might think storm drains and sanitary sewer drains are basically the same. They tend to look alike, and most people have had little reason to distinguish one from the other. But there’s a big difference.


Storm drains are common features of streets, parking lots and other city surfaces. They direct rain and melting snow water off of these surfaces and into streams, rivers and other natural waterways, increasing safety for drivers and pedestrians. The water is not treated during this process.


In contrast, sanitary sewers take tainted water from homes and businesses, and run it through an elaborate treatment system in order to remove debris and toxins before the water can be returned to the water cycle. This includes dirty water from our showers, baths, dishwashers, washing machines, sinks, toilets and septic tanks, as well as industrial waste water from sources such as car washes, factories and slaughterhouses. It all gets routed to sewage treatment plants.

Now, you may be wondering how this information could be relevant to you. Here’s how:

Since the water going into the storm drains in our neighborhoods is returned to natural waterways without treatment, we all have a responsibility to notice when foul water and toxic debris (perhaps from construction projects) makes its way into them. This can cause real environmental harm, disturbing our local streams and killing wildlife. If you see such pollution taking place, contact your local authorities. We should also be careful to keep our yard trash from being swept into these storm drains, as this can cause obstructions.


We also have an obligation to not overflow our sanitary sewer with water that doesn’t need sanitary treatment. One example is sump pump drainage. Your sump pump should route water to your own property or to a storm sewer where it can be efficiently routed to local waterways.


If your sump pump is routed to a sanitary system, or if you’re concerned about foul water going into a storm sewer, call Hoover Electric. Established in 1980, Hoover Electric, Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling has been serving customers in Southeast Michigan ever since, offering courteous, professional service. Because we offer all the services you need for residential maintenance under one roof, we’re able to offer extremely competitive pricing while maintaining great customer service and guaranteed satisfaction. When you’re looking for top-quality electrical, plumbing, heating, or cooling services in Clinton Township, contact Hoover through our website or call 586-232-9204 today.


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