Weatherwatch: Easy Care for Catch Basins and Storm Drains

April showers are here and Covington is scheduled for some rainy weather. It's important to know that catch basins are our friends!


What are catch basins/storm drains?

Catch basins, otherwise known as storm drains, are on almost every street corner and allow rainwater to drain from our streets.  They are especially useful during storms when the high water volume falling on streets could otherwise cause flooding. Storm drains are the entryway from our streets to our sewer system. On rainy days, rainwater and anything else on the streets enter storm drains.

Why are they Important?

It is important to maintain catch basins to prevent storm sewer blockages and minimize the amount of pollutants entering storm sewers which may eventually discharge into local streams and waterways such as the Ohio and Licking Rivers. Clogged catch basins can also result in the ponding of water along streets and parking lots causing a nuisance to motorists, pedestrians and businesses.

How do they get blocked?

Debris such as leaves or other materials can collect over time and block the entrance to the drain, making water difficult to enter the system. Also, large items cannot get past the openings at street level, however, smaller items can get past and also clog the drain from beneath the road’s surface.


What does the City do to Keep Catch Basins and Storm Drains Clear?

The City runs and operates a multi-faceted maintenance program year-round to prevent the build up of debris that may cause blockage. A street sweeping program, a leaf pick-up program, catch basin cleaning/inspection program, as well as a snow removal schedule, alternating throughout the year and depending on season, are all part of the overall right-of-way maintenance program. While the City is responsible for road maintenance, the City's partner, SD1, is responsible for managing all maintenance beneath the road’s surface and the underground sewage system.


How can you help?

When you are clearing your sidewalk or driveway, dispose of waste in trash receptacles instead of sweeping it into the gutters or catch basins.

If leaves or other debris are blocking a catch basin near your house or business, remove and dispose of the debris properly. In addition, during the winter months, try to maintain the openings to catch basins by clearing away any snow or ice.

Stand on the curb and use a rake or pitch fork to clear leaves, limbs, and debris from the catch basin. Do not attempt to remove the grate, only the debris on top of the grate.  Place leaves in plastic bags or garbage bins for easy removal and recycling.

The best time to inspect the storm drain in front of your house or business is before a rain storm. Monitor and clean the catch basin in the fall when the trees are shedding their leaves. When the forecast calls for heavy rainfall or snow and ice, remove debris from the catch basin  before a storm. After a storm, maintain the openings to catch basins by clearing away any blockage. 



SD1 has created the Storm Water Hotline (859-578-6745) for members of the community to report storm water-related issues and learn more about Northern Kentucky’s Storm Water Management Program. Call the Storm Water Hotline to ask questions or request information regarding the following topics:

  • Rain barrels and other storm water best management practices (BMPs)
  • SD1’s Storm Water Education Program
  • Public Service Park
  • Illicit discharges and water quality concerns
  • Storm water flooding
  • Sediment and erosion control
  • SD1’s storm water fee
  • Other storm water-related questions or concerns


If you have questions or think a catch basin on your street requires cleaning or maintenance, call the Department of Public Improvements at 859-292-2292.


Learn more here: