Storm Sewer Information

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Storm Water and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Information

Managing Storm Water in Ames, IA (brochure)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Iowa Department of Natural Resources:
Iowa Stormwater Partnership:

Ames Businesses and Storm Sewer Discharges.  It is important to understand that anything going down a storm sewer eventually ends up in a river or creek - untreated. If asked, most people know this, but they do not always make the connection. Often, it is simply too convenient to rinse something down a storm drain in a parking lot. Businesses should be sure to know where all floor or yard drains and sump pits actually go. Occasionally, drain lines are inadvertently connected to storm sewers when they should really be tied into the sanitary sewer. The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires a permit for any discharge into any "waters of the United States," including creeks and rivers.

Materials That Cannot Be Put In Storm Sewers.  Examples of prohibited discharges include:

  • gasoline
  • oil petroleum-containing waste
  • solvents
  • anti-freeze
  • paints
  • soaps and detergents (including from washing cars)
  • sewage
  • hazardous or toxic chemicals
  • anything that can cause a film, sheen, or discoloration of the water or adjoining shorelines

Many of these discharges are also illegal even when going to the sanitary sewer. The City of Ames has a Non-Domestic Waste Pretreatment Program to regulate discharges into the sanitary sewers. Contact the Water and Pollution Control Department for more information.

Safe Disposal for Large Amounts of Anti-Freeze.  The anti-freeze from a single radiator can be safely disposed of in a sanitary sewer and treated by the City's wastewater treatment plant. However, large quantities from commercial or fleet maintenance programs will upset the plant's biological system and are prohibited. Any anti-freeze discharge directly into a river or stream can cause environmental damage to fish and other aquatic life, and is not allowed. Dry weather compounds the problems from these illegal discharges. When there is very little water in area streams, there is virtually no dilution occurring. During dry conditions, wildlife are drawn to any available water they can find. Also, the lower water levels make improper discharges much easier to spot.

Proper Disposal Methods.  The first and best source of information is the manufacturer or distributor of the substance which you want to dispose. Obtain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every chemical you have on-site. MSDS's contain information on the proper handling and disposal methods, and on clean-up precautions if a spill occurs. Most MSDS's also direct the user to contact a local treatment officials for guidance prior to use, disposal or if spilled.

Contact Information

To report storm water violations:

  • City of Ames Public Works Department (8AM - 5PM), 515-239-5160
  • City of Ames Water and Pollution Control (after hours), 515-239-5150

To report a chemical spill 24-hours a day:

  • City of Ames Fire Department, 515-239-5109
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources Emergency Response Unit, 515-281-8694,
  • EPA National Response Center, 1-800-424-8802,

For more information about what can be discharged into a storm sewer or other waterway:

  • City of Ames Public Works Department, 515-239-5160
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources Water Resources Division, 515-281-4312
  • EPA Region 7 Water and Wetlands Division, 913-551-7030

For more information about what can be discharged into a sanitary sewer:

  • City of Ames Water and Pollution Control, 515-239-5150
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wastewater Division, 515-281-8877
  • EPA Region 7 Environmental Services Division, 913-551-7800