Frequently Asked Questions


Curbside opening that collects rainwater from streets and serves as an entry point to the storm drain system.

A vast network of underground pipes and open channels designed for flood control, which discharges to surface waters often by first going through a natural or constructed stormwater management facility such as, but not limited to, ditches, swales, roads with drainage systems, detention ponds, retention ponds, infiltration devices, oil/water separators, sediment basins, modular pavement or other such devices.

No. They are two completely separate drainage systems. Effluent in the sewer system receives extensive and thorough treatment prior to being discharged into DeKalb County's surface waters. The storm drain system on the other hand, receives no treatment before entering our surface waters.

Stormwater is rainwater that enters the storm drain system and empties into surfaces waters such as streams, rivers and lakes.

Stormwater pollution is water from rain, irrigation, garden hoses or other activities that picks up pollutants (cigarette butts, trash, automotive fluids, used oil, paint, fertilizers and pesticides, lawn and garden clippings and pet waste) from streets, parking lots, driveways and yards and carries them through the storm drain system and to surface waters.

.On a typical dry summer day, an average of one million gallons flows through the system. During the wetter season, and after a heavy rainstorm, this flow can increase to billions and billions of gallons.

Such a facility would be extremely expensive to build and maintain. And, the massive amount of water coming through the facility during a rainstorm would easily overtax the facility.

These problems could be caused by dumping / a sanitary sewer line break / broken silt fence / or illegal construction activities. Contact the Department of Watershed Management at (770) 270-6243 to have it investigated.

It is illegal to discharge oil / grease / paint / and commercial car washing and carpet cleaning waste water into catch basins. Please note that residential swimming pool discharge / natural spring water / home car washing water / and water from fire fighter activities is allowed to run into catch basins. Contact the Department of Watershed Management at (770) 270-6243 to have it investigated.

It is illegal to knowingly dump or discharge hazardous materials into storm drain catch basins, and the DeKalb County Stormwater Program can impose stiff fines on the perpetrators if they are caught. Illegal dumping of trash, paint products, motor oil, and other chemicals into storm drains is against the law. The DeKalb County Stormwater Program sends community businesses letters explaining the environmental impact that can result from illegal dumping into the storm drain system. We also are engaged in Community Outreach to encourage YOU to be a solution to stormwater pollution by reporting any illegal dumping (Report Illegal Dumping) to our Stormwater Program.

There is a possible illicit connection from a residence or a business into the storm sewer system. Contact the Department of Watershed Management at (770) 270-6243 to have it investigated.

Residents in unincoporated DeKalb County can dispose of unused paint with their normal household garbage. The containers must be one gallon or less in size with the lids removed and the paint completely dry. Homeowners should allow the paint to air dry or can add a liquid absorbing substance such as kitty litter. All the paint must be completely dry. For the remaining portion, a paint stick can prove useful to determine if the can is dry all the way to the bottom. Residents in the municipalities of DeKalb County may use the Seminole Landfill. The same aforementioned procedure is acceptable. Commercial businesses should recycle all unused paint. DO NOT PLACE IT INTO DUMPSTERS! Residents or businesses who have lead based paint should contact the National Lead Information Clearinghouse at (800) 424-LEAD.

Roads and Drainage Division is authorized and funded to maintain drainage infrastructure (pipes, culverts, catch basins, etc.) and about ten feet of the drainage ditch, drainage easement, or creek at the ends of pipes and culverts. Maintenance of the remainder of the creek or drainage easement is the responsibility of the property owner. Since most residents have a creek or drainage easement on their property, maintenance of those areas by County personnel would require huge increases in funding and manpower. Therefore, the property owner is responsible for maintenance of those areas just as they are responsible for mowing their yard within the road right-of-way.

This is an illicit connection. Contact the Department of Watershed Management at (770) 270-6243 to have it investigated.

There is a possible illicit connection. Contact the Department of Watershed Management at (770) 270-6243 to have it investigated.

DeKalb County has developed some informational materials for the public, students, and teachers, please see our Community Outreach page.

You can contact the Stormwater Section of DeKalb County Roads and Drainage at (404) 297-4464 for information on how to pick up storm drain curb marker (or stencil) supplies needed to install curb markers on the storm drains in your neighborhood.

The best way to wash your car is to use a full service car wash. They are designed to recycle used water and filter out many of the harmful chemicals and pollutants washed away from your vehicle. An alternative to using a full service car wash is to park your car in the lawn or on some gravel and use biodegradable soaps to wash your vehicle. Although we recommend you go to a car wash that recycles the water, please remember to use as little water as possible if you wash your car on your lawn. Water conservation is essential in metropolitan Atlanta and it begins with you. Please see our Community Outreach page for more information about the Water Use It Wisely Campaign.

Grass, leaves and yard clippings that are repeatedly swept into catch basins can clog the drain, causing flooding in local neighborhoods. During the process of decomposition of these natural materials, the amount of available dissolved oxygen in our streams decreases and contributes to the death of other important aquatic animals such as macroinvertebrates which are part of the food supply for many fishes and other vertebrates of lakes and streams. Some common macroinvertebrates in Georgia Streams include clams, snails, worms, amphipods, crayfish, and the larvae of many aquatic insects (e.g., dragonflies, mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, and black flies). For more information about Georgia Streams visit the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Website, and to learn more about freshwater biology visit the North American Benthological Society Website