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To report stormwater violations:

  • Load the “Ames on the Go” app and add a New Request (Use "Storm Drain" category).

Or contact:

  • City of Ames Public Works Department, 515-239-5160 (8:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
  • City of Ames Water and Pollution Control, 515-239-5150 (after hours)
  • Jake Moore, Stormwater Specialist, City of Ames Public Works Department, 515-239-5160
  • Liz Calhoun, Stormwater Resource Analyst,   515-239-5575

Report 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 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

 Illicit Discharge coming out of a pipe

Follow these links to learn more about proper yard care, oil changes and car washing:

Yard Care

Oil Changes

Car Washing

What is illicit discharge?

Illicit discharge is any illegal discharge into the storm sewer or waterways that is not comprised entirely of stormwater. It may be a result of uncontrolled industrial activity, deposits of oil on parking lots, excess lawn fertilizer and yard clippings, and a variety of other sources which pollute water with turbidity, excess nutrients, and bacteria. Other actions that are also considered to be an illegal discharge are dumping liquids into yard or floor drains or putting any refuse into storm drain inlets or drainageways.

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. Be sure to know where all floor or yard drains and sump pits go prior to discharging materials in them. Occasionally, drain lines connected to storm sewers when they should instead 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.

How Is the City Managing Illicit Discharges? To detect illicit discharges, inspections of the outfalls are performed by the City’s Public Works Department. An outfall is where stormwater is drained from a pipe or drainageway into our city's creeks and waterbodies. Each outfall is inspected once every year or whenever necessary. Once a problem is identified, the source will be determined. The responsible party will be notified and be required to eliminate the discharge.

What are some examples of Illegal discharge?

Examples of prohibited discharges include:

  • Improper oil disposal
  • Improper trash disposal
  • Improper disposal of concrete construction wash water
  • Grass clippings/leaves left in the street
  • Commercial car wash wastewater
  • 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.

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

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership