How You Can Help

You can help us improve our local waterways.

What we do on the land affects our waterways.

Rainwater flows over rooftops, lawns, parking lots and roadways as it travels to storm drains and ditches. This water accumulates pollutants along its journey—such as lawn chemicals, oil, litter and pet waste—which flow directly to our waterways.

Help improve our waterways:

In your home

  • Delay using washing machines and dishwashers during peak rain events—they can fill up the sanitary sewers and contribute to sewer overflows
  • Dispose of fats, oils, grease and food scraps in the trash to prevent clogs in your sewer line and backups into your home (see a list of companies that will haul away your FOG)
  • Put diapers, floss, feminine-hygiene products, paper towels, waste from garbage disposals in the trash, not down your drain
  • Know the Three P’s of Potty Safety - Pee, Poo and Paper. Never flush “flushable” wipes and other household items – these items do not break down and can cause serious problems for plumbing systems. This can lead to sewer backups in your home and MSD facilities
  • Disconnect your sump pumps from the sewer system
  • Do not flush medications. These substances are bad for our environment. The wastewater treatment process does not remove the substances contained in them, so they end up back in our waterways. Dispose of your medications at: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, 531 Court Place, Suite 600, M-F, 8 am to 4 pm, or St. Matthews Police Department, 3940 Grandview Avenue, M-F, 8 am to 4 pm.

In your yard

  • Decrease use of fertilizer and pesticides, especially when it may rain soon. Stormwater picks up these chemicals and carries it to our local waterways where fertilizer fosters algae and pesticides harm our local flora and fauna. 
  • Compost grass clippings. Grass clippings and leaves get carried off by rain water to catch basins and drainage ditches and then to streams. These materials can clog catch basins, drainage ditches and streams, contributing to local flooding.
  • Wash your car on the grass, and check your vehicle for fluid leaks. Your vehicle carries oil, grit, and dirt from the roadways where you drive. When you wash your car on a driveway or other paved surface, the wash water drains to a nearby catch basin or drainage ditch and can be carried to a nearby creek or stream. In the yard, water will soak into the grass, so less will run off to catch basin or drainage ditches.
  • Put pet waste in the trash. Pet waste that is left on the ground is carried to local waterways when it rains and can possibly contaminate our rivers and streams. Children and pets play in these very same places.
  • Disconnect your downspouts from the sewer system
  • Direct your downspouts away from paved surfaces so nature can filter pollutants from your rooftop before reaching a waterway
  • Plant a tree—they capture stormwater runoff and decrease the likelihood of sewer overflows
  • Rain barrels store stormwater during a rain storm directly from your gutters. As a bonus, water stored in a rain barrel can be used during dryer periods to water plants and flowers.

MSD Rain Garden flyer.jpg

Plant a Rain Garden

Properly drain your pool to protect our streams


  • Do not drain your pool during or up to 48 hours after a rain event.
  • Dechlorinate your swimming pool water before draining it. The pool should sit at least 10 days after chemical treatment before draining any water. 
  • Test the pool water to ensure that it is essentially chlorine-free before draining (about 0.1 parts per million total chlorine). Bubbling, cascading, or other forms of aeration will help to remove chlorine from water. 
  • The pool’s pH should be in a normal range of 6 to 8 before draining. 
  • Drain to a grassy area in your yard if it is large enough to absorb the water, or into a sanitary sewer cleanout, if one is available on the property.
  • Discharge water slowly, at no more than 30 gallons per minute, to prevent soil erosion, flooding, or damage to adjacent properties, including backups into homes and businesses.
  • For larger pools, you may need to access an MSD manhole for discharge, call the MSD Industrial Waste Department, at 502.540.6917; allow two business days

For more information, call MSD Customer Relations at 502.540.6000 with your pool draining questions. 

Out and about

  • Take used oil to a recycling center. Used motor oil that is put into the trash or emptied into a storm drain contaminates our river and streams which could eventually harm our drinking water and water quality. Just one gallon of used oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of water.
  • Keep storm drains and ditches free of litter. Catch basins need to be free of litter and debris to effectively collect stormwater. 
  • Don't litter
  • Participate in environmental clean-ups, like Ohio River Sweep
  • If you see a leaking sewer pipe or a clogged storm drain/catch basin, please report it to Customer Relations