Residential Storm Water

Unlike the sanitary sewer system, which brings waste to a treatment facility where it is cleaned, storm sewer systems are designed to collect runoff and send it directly into nearby ponds and/or streams, without any treatment. Unfortunately, runoff can easily collect pollutants like fertilizers, pesticides, motor vehicle fluids and sediment that accumulate on driveways, parking lots and streets. These contaminants can severely pollute and impair our local waterways.

Fortunately, residents of Altoona can take an active role in protecting the City’s water quality by implementing Best Management Practices (BMP’s).


Lawn Care BMP’s

  1. Restore the health of your lawn by aerating and then apply a thin (1/4” – 1/2”) layer of compost and seed.

  2. Minimize the use of fertilizers. When you do use them, purchase fertilizers containing “0” phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer bag indicates the quantity of phosphorus). Sweep up any fertilizer that is spread on sidewalks, driveways or streets and spread it back on the lawn.

  3. Use native landscaping and native turf grass in your yard.

Homeowners Guide: Sustainable Lawns


Pollution Prevention Tips

  1. Wash your car at a carwash or on the lawn, not the driveway

  2. Re-direct roof drains to gardens or other vegetated areas

  3. Clean up pet waste

  4. Properly dispose of all hazardous household waste


Pools & Spas
Learn how you can properly drain your pool and/or spa here: Pool and Spa Discharge

Rain Barrels
Residents can use rain barrels to capture rain water, which can be used later when it is not raining. Capturing a portion of rainwater from each rain event helps reduce the amount of water that flows into City streets and sewers and also provides homeowners with free irrigation water.

The City of Altoona provides up to $75 reimbursement for the purchase and install of a rain barrel on private property. Learn more about the City’s Rain Barrel Grant Program here:

                Rain Barrel Grant Program Summary                  Rain Barrel Grant Program Application

(first attachment is PDF, second is a online form)

Rain Campaign
The Rain Campaign organization provides great information for residential “rainscaping” which includes funding and plant sources for people in the Des Moines Metro area.  You can find more information about the Rain Campaign at https://raincampaign.org/

Additional Resources
More stormwater educational materials and information can be found on the Iowa Stormwater Education Program website: http://www.iowastormwater.org/

Altoona City Code Chapter 147: Illicit Discharge to Storm Sewer System