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What's Bugging You? Clogged storm drains

January 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
There are thousands of storm drains all over Southern California, a careful design to move millions of gallons of water from the streets to the ocean. To prevent trash from going along with it, screens have been installed on every drain.

But residents worry if these get blocked with debris, it might mean problems.

"I've seen it flooded enough that it was up at curb level," said Chatsworth resident Clara Ann Woll.

Woll worries the new screens could make things worse.

"Prior to that we really didn't have a problem at this intersection of there being flooding, but since the grates have been installed, if the drain gets plugged then we have flooding at this intersection," said Woll.

"As part of our street-sweeping program they come by and sweep the streets and remove the debris that's in front of there," said Robert Potter, a manager at the L.A. County Department of Public Works.

The city says it will clean these drains regularly. But Woll wonders if it will be enough. She says pine trees are notorious for getting all over the streets and sidewalks.

"The city had just cleaned these drains just three weeks ago and you can see one day of heavy winds causes enough debris to blow into the drains that they're already blocked again," said Woll.

Residents are concerned because right now there are only a few leaves and twigs blocking the drain, and already the water level is about 2 inches high. They say when it really starts raining in January and February this is going to flood.

"There's a potential, we don't know what's coming down the system that something could block up a catch basin. There always is that potential. But we're very comfortable with the fact that these grates function the way they're supposed to," said Potter.

The city says these grates are also designed to give way if there is too much debris in front of them. That way the debris and the water should flow into the catch basin. Officials say we can do our part to keep the trash off the streets.

"Residents are a big part of this. With their efforts to remove the trash on their properties or pull up the stuff that's around them or make sure it fits in a bin, it'll keep it from washing down the street and eventually clogging a basin," said Potter.

So if you see debris blocking these drains report it right away so the city can clean it up... And let us know about it. If it causes a problem we'll go out there to check it out.