Water & Sewer

Catch Basin and Street Drain Use

Catch basins, like the one pictured below, are designed only for rain water. Most do not include filtering or treatment systems. When people dump chemicals, garbage or throw pet waste in them, they are sending harsh pollutants directly into our local creeks and lakes. Think of it this way, if you wouldn’t throw the waste directly into the lake, then you shouldn’t be sending it down a catch basin.

It is important to keep pollutants and other debris such as pet waste or garbage from entering street drains. You can help by following these tips to do your part in keeping the Hamilton Harbour clean and free from pollutants:

Image of catch basin on city street

Pet waste

  • Pick up your pet waste, double bag it and place in the trash
  • Do not leave bags of pet waste in the road or sidewalk where they may end up in a catch basin
  • Never place pet waste, in a bag or otherwise, in a catch basin

Lawn and garden care

  • Minimize the use of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides in your lawn and garden
  • Use less-toxic gardening and pest control techniques and products
  • Do not apply lawn or garden products before it rains
  • Do not over apply lawn and garden products and follow all instructions
  • Use a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler so that you do not overwater your lawn
  • Plant vegetation to minimize soil erosion on your property
  • Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects
  • Compost or mulch yard waste at home or place in a paper yard waste bag or yard waste bin for proper disposal
  • Don't sweep yard waste onto the street or into storm drains

Car care

  • Inspect your car for leaks and regularly maintain your vehicle
  • Take your car to a car wash instead of washing it in the driveway
  • If you wash your car at home, do it on a grassy area if possible and do not use harsh cleaners
  • Minimize the accumulation of brake dust and vehicle emission particulates on the ground by driving less if possible

Property clean up

Disposal of pollutants

  • Recycle used motor oil, antifreeze and other fluids
  • Recycle fats, oils and grease or put small amounts in green bin 
  • Properly dispose of household chemicals and hazardous wastes at a Community Recycling Centre 
  • Have your home and RV septic tank pumped and system inspected regularly
  • Take unused medication to pharmacy
  • Put cigarette butts, wrappers and waste in trash.

Get involved

The Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC), in partnership with Trout Unlimited Canada, works with volunteers to mark storm drains with painted fish symbols and disks that carry the message “Only Rain Down the Drain”. They also deliver flyers to nearby mailboxes to spread the Yellow Fish Road™ message.

You can host your own Yellow Fish Road™ outdoor marking activity. Visit BARC for more information.

Image of yellow fish marker next to catch basin

Report misuse of a catch basin

Be aware of activities in your neighbourhood. If you see someone placing litter, pet waste or dumping other pollutants into a catch basin, or if there are areas where this has occurred, call 905 546-2489. Provide as much information as you can, including:

  • make/model or license plate number of the vehicle
  • description of people
  • any other information you think would help in an investigation
  • Do not approach anyone you believe is responsible for misusing a catch basin. City staff are trained to deal with these situations and are responsible for the investigation.

In the event of a spill - a discharge of an abnormal quantity of a pollutant that occurs outside of the ordinary course of events – please call the City of Hamilton’s Spill Reporting Line at 905-540-5188. We will take your calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The law requires you to notify the City of a spill as soon as possible. City staff will respond and provide you with information on clean up, site restoration and how to prevent similar accidents.