The City of Gardendale is committed to keeping our environment healthy and vibrant. Many residents are unaware that storm drains carry runoff directly to the nearest stream or lake instead of connecting to a treatment plant. That means any pollutants and litter that is picked up flows directly into our waterways. Because this water receives no treatment, it is especially important to keep all pollutants out.

Only Rain Down the Storm Drain! Help Prevent Water Pollution.

Keeping our waterways clean is important to all of us. How can you help?

  • Educate yourself and others about pollution from stormwater runoff and how to prevent it.
  • Participate in programs to recycle* and safely dispose of used oil and household hazardous wastes and containers.
  • Use good housekeeping practices with lawn care chemicals, oil, gasoline and pet wastes.
  • Report spills or illicit discharges to the city and any dumping of inappropriate materials into storm drains (such as oil, antifreeze).
  • Rain barrels that keep runoff water from entering the storm drain saves you money if used to water plants in your yard.
  • A rain garden that temporarily holds rain water until plants can absorb the runoff is a functional and beautiful addition to low-lying areas in your yard.

* Gardendale Residents: There is a small Recycling Trailer at the Public Works Department at 325 Main Street, which is available for use by Gardendale residents only. Since this service is provided only for residents, you may be asked for identification showing that you do reside in Gardendale. This trailer is available for use Monday through Friday from 7:30 am until 3:00 pm. Please note: this is a small trailer with a very limited capacity, intended for occasional use. If you have questions about our Recycling Trailer you can call Public Works at 205-631-1708.

If you would like to recycle regularly, our local garbage service provider, Santek, does offer recycling pickup at your home for a monthly fee. If you would like to find out more about that service, you may contact Santek at 205-631-1313.

See the educational brochures to the right for more information.

Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is caused by a discrete number of sources, stormwater pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere. As rainwater and snowmelt run over streets, lawns, farms and construction sites, pollutants such as fertilizers, soil, pesticides, oil, grease and pathogens are picked up and carried by the stormwater. The runoff carrying these pollutants is then discharged without treatment into bodies of water used for swimming, fishing and the provision of drinking water. Pollutants carried by stormwater are the most common cause of water pollution. By practicing sustainable household habits, homeowners can reduce the occurrence of common pollutants in stormwater.

More About Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are a fun and accessible way to conserve and protect water quality!
Did you know over 1,000 gallons of water run off the average roof (1,700 sq ft) in every normal rain event?
Using rain barrels can have community and household benefits:

  • Rainwater is better for your plants and soil.  It is highly oxygenated, free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water.
  • You’ll help to reduce runoff pollution.
  • You can reduce your water bill. Garden and lawn watering accounts for 40 percent of residential water use during the summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Save money!
  • You’ll have your own water source in times of drought or watering restrictions.
  • You’ll contribute to erosion prevention.
  • You’ll help control moisture levels around the foundations of your home. Collecting rainwater before it hits ground levels will help to prevent flooding, damp, and mold.
  • You’ll cut down on the amount of water that must undergo expensive and energy-intensive sewage treatments.
  • You’ll be an inspiring example of environmental stewardship, and we thank you!

Vehicle & Garage

  • Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on the lawn or other unpaved surface to minimize the amount of dirty, soapy water flowing into the storm drain. Commercial car washes are equipped to recycle the wastewater.
  • Check your car, boat, motorcycle and other machinery for leaks and spills. Make repairs as soon as possible. Before it rains, clean up the spilled fluids with an absorbent material such as sand or kitty litter and dispose of this material in your household waste container (not by rinsing into the storm drain).
  • Recycle used automotive fluids and batteries at participating service stations or call the Jefferson County Environmental Services Administration.

Lawn & Garden

  • Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and only in the recommended amounts. Avoid application if the forecast calls for rain; the chemical will be washed into the storm drain and not benefit your lawn and garden.
  • Consider installing a rain garden, which is a planted depression designed to collect stormwater. Rain gardens promote infiltration and reduce the volume of runoff leaving your property.
  • Select native plants and grasses that are drought and pest resistant. Native  plants require less water, fertilizer and pesticides.
  • Sweep up yard waste rather than hosing it down. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible. Do NOT place yard waste along the curb unless it is scheduled to be picked up. The City of Gardendale offers curb side yard waste removal by calling the Public Works Department at (205) 631-3394 and scheduling a pick up.
  • Cover piles of soil and mulch being used in landscaping projects to prevent these pollutants from blowing or washing off your yard and into local water bodies. Vegetate bare spots in your yard to avoid soil erosion.
  • Don’t overwater your lawn. Water during the cool times of the day, and don’t let water run off into the storm drain.

Pet Care

Home Repair & Improvement

  • Before beginning an outdoor project, locate the nearest storm drains and protect them from debris.
  • Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris such as concrete, mortar, treated lumber, etc.
  • Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible, and follow the label directions. Clean up spills immediately and dispose of the waste safely. Store substances properly to avoid leaks and spills.
  • Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled and recyclable products whenever possible.
  • Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors. Filter and reuse paint thinner when using oil-based paints. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program or donate unused paint to local charities.
  • Reduce the amount of paved areas in your yard. Consider the placement of permeable pavers and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard to reduce stormwater runoff from your property.
  • Consider utilizing rain gardens and rain barrels to capture and filter water on your property, improving water quality in the process. Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces and onto lawns.

Swimming Pools & Spas

  • Drain your swimming pool only when a test kit does not detect chlorine levels.
  • Whenever possible, drain or backwash your pool into the sanitary sewer system.
  • Store pool and spa chemicals in a covered area and prevent leaks and spills

Septic System Use & Maintenance

  • Have your septic system inspected by a professional at least every three years, and have the septic tank pumped as necessary (usually every three to five years).
  • Flush responsibly. Flushing household chemicals like paint, pesticides, oil and antifreeze can destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system. Other items, such as diapers, paper towels and cat litter, can clog the septic system and potentially damage components.

For more information, contact the City of Gardendale Inspections Department at 205-631-1708 or check out the links to helpful web sites in the right column by clicking on their logo.

Alabama Department of Public Health

Jefferson County Department of Health

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Alabama Department of Environmental Management