City’s stormwater system essential for rain water, snowmelt, run-off 

By Brent Frazier, mayor City of Pelican Rapids 

We all are aware that rainfall and snowmelt on lawns, gardens and other grassy surfaces is absorbed into the ground. So then, where does the water go that falls on the streets, parking lots and all other impervious surfaces that is not absorbed into the ground?

This is the rainfall and snowmelt that flows into the stormwater catch basins located throughout the City of Pelican Rapids. These catch basins are curbside drains with the sole purpose of collecting the rain water and snowmelt from the streets, parking lots and other impervious surfaces….hhlh and thus transport it to the underground piping which then flows to the Pelican River or other drainage areas. 

You will notice a lot of stormwater catch basins are located along the curbs (in the gutter) at the corners of the street intersections. Some stormwater catch basins may also be located along the curb in the center or midway point of a long city block. It should be noted that they are strategically placed at the proper elevation (low point) so as the water will flow by gravity to these catch basin destinations.

Many of these catch basins are round in shape while others may be rectangular in shape. Whatever the shape, they are constructed at a foundry of a heavy cast iron material and are designed for heavy vehicles to drive over them. When designed for a 6 inch high back curb, they are placed at the street level with usually an opening in the back of the curb, and when designed for a drive-over curb, approximately one half of the catch basin is at street level, whereas the other half is located into the back of the drive over curb. 

The openings in the catch basins that collect the water are rectangular and narrow in shape. Safety is needed as not to step on the catch basins or ride a bicycle over them.

As the sole purpose of a catch basin is to collect the rain water or snowmelt, no other liquids or foreign substances should ever be placed into the stormwater catch basin, as deterioration to the environment and aquatic life could then be the end result. 

If one has a vehicle that leaks liquids, the liquids should be collected and disposed of properly and not parked on a street, parking lot or impervious surface. The vehicle should then be repaired immediately before parked on such above named surfaces.

Stormwater catch basins should be kept free of anything that could impede the purpose of collecting rain water or snowmelt, or its purpose would be defeated in the event of a heavy rainfall or sudden snowmelt, and thus resulting in the flooding of streets and possible damage to property.

Each autumn season, city employees sweep city streets to collect the tree leaves that have fallen and thus cover the stormwater catch basins. Each spring season, city employees sweep city streets to collect the sand that was placed on the streets during the winter months for safe driving conditions, to thus prevent it from entering into the stormwater system. 

Your help is welcomed by the City to keep our stormwater catch basins clear of any object that is covering the catch basin and preventing it from performing its purpose. Your actions could be a benefit to you and your adjacent property in the event of a heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt.   

When the rain water or snowmelt enters into the catch basin, it then flows by gravity into the underground stormwater piping system and then on the destination into the Pelican River or other drainage area. 

The stormwater piping is constructed of reinforced concrete and presently that piping varies in size from 10 inches to 36 inches in diameter with a heavy side wall of approximately 2 inches thick. 

The ground cover depth over this reinforced concrete piping can also vary in regards to the topography and elevation of the terrain where the piping is buried in the ground. When buried at shallow depths, one will notice the ground heat (looking like stream) rising upward from the catch basins in the winter months. 

When Pelican city speaks about its’ underground utilities, reference is made to; water mains, sewer mains and stormwater piping. As both the water and sewer utilities are revenue producing utilities, the stormwater utility produces no revenue.

Although it produces no revenue, the stormwater utility system is a very essential utility to carry the rain water and snowmelt to the Pelican River or other drainage area and therefore protect property and life.