How You Can Help


Keeping our region’s waterways clean is a big job. It takes all of us—MSD, concerned citizens, businesses, and municipalities—doing our part to protect the environment we all share. Here are a few ways you can help.

Residents can:

  • Disconnect rain gutters and downspouts from sewer lines.
  • Install a rain garden or rain barrel to capture stormwater runoff.
  • Avoid planting trees, shrubs, and bushes near sewer lines to prevent the roots from blocking and damaging sewers.
  • Reduce your water use, especially during rainy weather.
  • Check the sewer line that leads to your house for cracks or separated joints and report any damage to MSD.
  • Reduce fertilizer and pesticide use and lawn watering.
  • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste like cleaning products, motor oil, and paint.
  • Collect and dispose of trash and pet waste regularly.
  • Reduce the amount of non-porous surfaces like blacktop and concrete on your property.


Street Cleaning, Maintenance, and Parking Facilities

  • Perform cleaning or paving activity during dry weather.
  • Cover and seal nearby storm drain inlets before maintenance repairs are made.
  • Sweep parking lots or use other dry cleaning methods.
  • Design parking lots to include semi-permeable areas.
  • Post “No Littering” signs on parking lots to encourage proper disposal.

Park and Landscaping Maintenance

  • Mow grass on a higher setting, and leave lawn clippings to retain moisture and provide nutrients.
  • Compost yard waste.
  • Minimize the use of landscaping chemicals.
  • Avoid applying fertilizer before a rain storm.
  • Follow label instructions when applying fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Use natural biological methods for pest control.
  • Apply pesticides when the target pest is most vulnerable.
  • Remove litter and debris often.

Materials and Supplies Storage

  • Store materials in a shed or garage when possible.
  • Cover materials stored outside to prevent contact with stormwater.
  • Contain and clean up spills immediately using dry methods.
  • Train employees on cleanup procedures.
  • Dispose of spill cleanup material properly.
  • Keep material safety data sheets on site and post emergency contact numbers for reporting spills.

Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance

  • Clean work areas to minimize oil and grease buildup.
  • Provide a designated covered area for vehicle maintenance to limit exposure to rain.
  • Clean vehicle parts without using liquid cleansers whenever possible.
  • Monitor parked vehicles and equipment for leaks.
  • Use a catch pan to capture leaking or dripping fluids.
  • Dispose of waste materials according to applicable laws and regulations.


Dirt, oil, and trash often collect in parking lots and paved areas where stormwater runoff can wash it into storm sewers. Eventually, the stormwater and debris flow into local bodies of water. To prevent this, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Sweep up litter, trash, and dirt from sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots, especially from around storm drains.
  • Keep lids closed on grease storage containers and trash dumpsters to prevent stormwater from becoming contaminated. Make sure the containers aren’t leaking.
  • Provide an adequate number of appropriately sized trash containers and empty them regularly.
  • Use appropriately sized commercial dumpsters to handle the waste you generate. Empty trash receptacles and dumpsters on an regular schedule.
  • Keep chemicals and other materials covered to prevent contaminating runoff.
  • Use all chemicals responsibly and properly dispose of waste.
  • Ensure the proper disposal of all wastewater into the wastewater sewer system.
  • Report chemical or oil spills to emergency response agencies. Be prepared to clean up spills to prevent them from harming the environment.


  • Minimize the amount of exposed soil and divert stormwater away from disturbed or exposed areas of the construction site.
  • Install best management practices (BMPs) such as silt fences, vegetative cover and other sediment and erosion controls, and properly maintain them.
  • Wash mud from vehicles in areas where the water will not enter the storm sewer or run to a nearby water body.
  • Properly dispose of trash and other wastes.

Automotive and Vehicle Washing

  • Provide cover over fueling stations.
  • Train employees on spill containment, and have the appropriate cleaning materials on hand should spills occur.
  • Wash vehicles at a commercial wash or other properly designated facility that treats wastewater before sending it to the wastewater sewer.

Kennels and Stables

  • Clean animal living quarters to collect and properly dispose of waste.
  • Do not wash animal waste into storm drains.
  • Avoid animal waste contaminating stormwater by diverting runoff and by covering stalls.

Restaurants and Food Processors

Grease is present in many common foods and food preparation ingredients such as lard, cooking oil, dairy products, butter, and salad dressings. Restaurants, food service operations, and other institutional food establishments use and generate large amounts of grease which can solidify in sewer pipes, reducing capacity and causing blockages and backups.

Learn how your business can help keep grease out of the sewer system with these tips for using grease interceptors.