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Alpharetta cracks down on illicit discharges to preserve environment and water systems, and keep storm drains clear

Alpharetta, Georgia – The City of Alpharetta reminds residents and businesses to be careful about what goes down their storm drains in order to help local water systems stay in good shape while protecting the environment. City authorities remind the community that storm water drains are strictly for rainwater, not for discarding grass cuttings, yard debris, used oil, or any household chemicals.

Alpharetta’s head of public works, Pete Sewczwicz, expressed concern about the common misconceptions people have about storm water systems.

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“What a lot of people do not realize is that whatever goes into a storm drain ends up in Alpharetta’s creeks and streams,” said Pete Sewczwicz, the City’s director of public works. “Unlike sanitary sewer systems that send everything to a central facility where the water goes through an extensive filtration and cleaning process, storm water flows through pipes that go directly to waterways and carries with it everything else that ends up in the system. If someone dumps something like used motor oil into a storm drain, that oil is going into a stream that flows through someone else’s yard and in which their kids may play.”

It might not seem dangerous, but Sewczwicz said that grass cuttings and leaves often get stuck in drainage systems, which can cause flooding on roads and private properties during heavy rainfall.

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“Most of the debris that we remove from our storm water system is yard waste like grass clippings and leaves that residents and landscapers have put down storm drains,” Sewczwicz said. “We spend a lot of time and tax money every year clearing that from the system to prevent flooding.”

To draw attention to the problem, the City of Alpharetta calls any material that enters the storm water system but isn’t water a “illicit discharge.” Alpharetta officials seek individuals to report any incidents of this kind that they witness. To make this process easier, the City of Alpharetta website has two easy-to-use ways to report issues online.

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Alpharetta has also put out an educational video to help the public because city officials know it’s not always easy to spot and report these kinds of crimes. The video’s goal is to teach people how to spot illegal discharges and use the online tools for reporting such incidents.

Those who want to learn more about the process can find the prepared material here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?si=6sviMhf6t5iXprMg&v=pZmcRTy25kM&feature=youtu.be.

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The city hopes that through increased awareness and community involvement, Alpharetta’s natural streams and creeks can be preserved for the enjoyment and health of current and future generations. City officials believe that the more people are informed about these issues, the more they will get involved in protecting the city infrastructure.

Aurelia Whitlock


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