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Storm Drain System

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Did you Know? There are 2 pipe systems underground!

Storm Drain System

In the Truckee Meadows, there are two systems of drainage. The sanitary sewer (wastewater) system, and the storm drain system. The wastewater sewage system takes household wastewater (such as water waste from sinks, toilets, washers, etc.) and carries it from each home's (INDOOR) plumbing into an underground sewer pipe. On the other hand, and as seen in the graphic above, the storm drain system carries rainwater, storm runoff, and "urban slobber" (overwatering runoff) off of (OUTDOOR) land, city streets and gutters, and routes it into curbside drains, into the storm drain system, and eventually out into the creeks and Truckee River.

Sanitary Sewer System
Household wastewater enters the sanitary sewer system and drains to a treatment facility.
Storm Drain System
Street surface runoff enters the storm drain system and drains directly to the Truckee River, untreated!

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The Problem

Illegal dumping in the streets and in the storm drain system is one of the largest contributors to water pollution in the country. Exposed open channels and catch basins are often easy targets for illegal dumping and "convenient" trash disposal.

Soiled diapers, shopping carts, yard waste, swept leaves, and used oil containers are just some of the many items tossed into the channels from above. Illegally dumped oil and trash can and often does make its way into the storm drain system and eventually the Truckee River. Water runoff from irrigation and washing activities at homes and businesses also carry pollutants into the storm drain system.  When it rains, water runoff will carry these items through the storm drain system and eventually make its way into the Truckee River. 

An example of runoff and watershed troubles as Urban Slobber: Chalk Creek! (click here for RGJ article on Chalk Creek).

Stormwater Pollution Control Efforts

The responsibility for cleaning and maintaining the storm drain system throughout the Truckee Meadows is shared by all of the governmental entities within their respective jurisdictions. The City's of Reno and Sparks and Washoe County along with stewardship of Truckee Meadows Interlocal Stormwater Committee develop work plans and budgets each year to maintain the system. Each catch basin and control channel is routinely cleaned and maintained to help keep them free of debris and trash. The committee is currently in the process of developing the Truckee Meadows Regional Stormwater Quality Management Program, a comprehensive program designed to reduce the pollution associated with urban runoff in the Truckee Meadows.

Past Flooding in the Truckee Meadows

The Truckee Meadows area has had a long history of flooding and records of flooding date back almost one hundred years. The reports indicate significant flood events on the Truckee River occurred in 1907, 1928, 1937, 1950, 1955, 1963, 1964, 1986 and 1997. All of these floods resulted from rain on snow events that occurred between the months of November and April.