Storm Water Management


The City of Covington took over what’s called the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program on March 1, 2021. This program regulates the quality of storm water runoff from roofs, driveways, and streets into storm drains and eventually into creeks and rivers. As a City, Covington previously had been regulated under this program through its co-permitting relationship with Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky since 2003.

The MS4 program is a federal program based on the size and population density of an urbanized area. However, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Division of Water oversees the program via a storm water permit issued every five years that mandates how the MS4 communities will manage their program.

As a MS4 permittee, Covington must develop a Storm Water Quality Management Program (SWQMP). The SWQMP is divided into six sections or Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) that must be met to follow the MS4 permit. Those MCMs are:

  • Public education and outreach on storm water impacts.
  • Public involvement and participation.
  • Illicit discharge detection and elimination.
  • Construction site storm water runoff control.
  • Post-construction practices, new and redevelopment.
  • Pollution prevention and good housekeeping for municipal operations.


The City of Covington is also drafting and will adopt three required new ordinances that will govern:

Basement flooding survey

If your basement floods during heavy rain, the City wants to know about it. If you have not previously talked to the City about the problem or filled out a flooding survey, then add your address and relevant details using this SURVEY. The background of the survey can be seen HERE.

Basement Sewage Backup Assistance

The City of Covington has partnered with Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky on a program that helps prevent sewage-contaminated water from backing up through basement drains during rainy weather. For details and how to apply, as well as various documents and forms, see BASEMENT SEWAGE BACKUP ASSISTANCE.


  • You should call SD1 at (859) 578-7450 to report any kind of sewer emergency, including a basement backup, overland flooding, sewer overflows, or collapsed infrastructure.
  • To bring an issue related to storm water quality to the City’s attention, call (859) 292-2142 or email

Understanding the MS4

In general, there are three types of sewer conveyance systems in Covington: Sanitary, storm water, and combined.

  • The sanitary sewage system, managed by SD1, carries away wastewater from sinks, showers, and toilets.
  • The storm water system, which is governed by the MS4 program, carries rain runoff from roofs, parking lots, driveways, streets, and other impervious surfaces. This untreated water eventually goes into creeks and streams. Because it picks up contaminants and sediment along the way (including soil particles and other sediment, heavy metals, organic compounds, fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste, soap, and oil and grease), it can pollute our waterways. The MS4 program regulates only the quality of the water, not the quantity. Because it should not contain any wastewater, it is not a combined sewer system (below).
  • The combined sewer system – which is common in older cities – is a type of gravity sewer with a system of pipes, tunnels, pump stations etc. that transports both sanitary sewage and urban storm runoff together to a sewage treatment plant or disposal site. This means that during rain events, the sewage gets diluted, resulting in higher flow rates at the treatment site. Uncontaminated storm water simply dilutes sewage, but runoff may dissolve or suspend virtually anything it contacts on roofs, streets, and storage yards. As with storm water runoff, the rainfall that enters this system can pick up various contaminants. Because they contain sanitary sewage, combined systems are managed by SD1.

Storm water fee

To pay for complying with MS4 program regulations, the City took over assessment of the monthly fee that used to be assessed by SD1.

  • Single-family residences: Homeowners shall pay $4.54 a month and will be billed annually on a calendar year basis by the City’s Finance Department. The bill is due by March 31.
  • Commercial accounts: For owners of commercial property, the monthly MS4 fee will depend on the size and characteristics of their property, specifically the size of the roof and the amount of (impervious) pavement, similar to how SD1 set the fee. Bills will be sent quarterly for the three months that just ended (i.e. “quarterly in arrears”).


To read more about Covington and the MS4 program, see:

How can you help?

Residents can do their part by keeping chemicals and other contaminants out of storm drains and the groundwater:

  • Get your car checked regularly for oil, gas or antifreeze leaks. When you change fluids, do not pour them into your yard, the street or storm drain. Instead, see HAZARDOUS WASTE GUIDELINES for proper disposal methods.
  • Dispose of old or unused paint properly. See these PAINT GUIDELINES from the City’s Solid Waste & Recycling Division for rules.
  • Pick up your pet’s waste and dispose of it in a trash can or pet waste receptacle.
  • Keep grass clippings and other yard waste out of the street. Either compost your yard trimmings or dispose of them in your trash, following these YARD WASTE GUIDELINES. Or take them to Rumpke Waste & Recycling’s transfer station on Boron Drive. For information about the transfer station, call Rumpke’s call center at (800) 828-8171.
  • Use pesticides and fertilizers according to the label and do not overuse. Alternative methods are easy to use, work well and are inexpensive. Dispose of leftover chemicals according to hazardous waste guidelines linked to above.
  • Take your car to a carwash, wash it on grass or in an area that drains into the grass.
  • Pick up your trash so it doesn’t wash into storm drains.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle when possible.

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