Paint or Oil Dumped Down Storm Drains


People are often confused about, or don’t know where, the storm drains located in the street drain. They assume that the storm drains go to the City’s wastewater treatment plant. However, the storm drains in South Burlington and many other cities and towns do not go to the wastewater treatment plant. Most storm drains drain directly to streams or other nearby water bodies. Motor oil and paint of all types contain chemicals that can harm aquatic ecosystems. Even paints labeled “environmentally friendly” and those used for lining athletic fields should not be disposed of by dumping down storm drains.

Red paint dumped down storm drain
Evidence of red paint dumped down a storm drain.
Paint visible in a roadside ditch
Paint dumped down a storm drain became visible in a roadside ditch


Numerous instances of individuals dumping paint and oil down storm drains have been reported throughout the City. The most effective way to prevent this activity is to educate the public on how the stormwater drainage system works, where pipes are connected, and the best way to dispose of these materials. One way to achieve this is to attach metal markers that contain the message “No Dumping. Drains to Stream” to storm drains throughout the City. The City also uses stencils to print this message next to storm drains.

"No Dumping" marker installed on storm drain
Metal “No Dumping” marker installed on storm drain located in the street.


Public education will reduce the frequency with which paint and oil are dumped down storm drains. This will result in less pollution reaching streams and Lake Champlain

Best Management Practices

Paint and used oil must be properly disposed of at an approved facility. In South Burlington, the Champlain Solid Waste District provides information where these materials can be safely brought for disposal (

Last Updated: 3/2012