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Water Services

Preventing Stormwater Pollution

The Problem

Rain and melting snow (also called stormwater) can pick up trash and other pollution from our lawns and streets and carry it to our creeks and streams. This pollution eventually makes its way back to the Cumberland River, the source of our drinking water.

How You Can Help

Read our helpful guides on how you can prevent stormwater pollution in your community and prevent stormwater pollution at the workplace.

How the Stormwater System Works

Nashville's stormwater system is made up of street drains, pipes, and ditches that lead to our natural waterways. Rainwater that does not soak into the ground is directed to a ditch or to a stormwater pipe to minimize street and yard flooding in our neighborhoods.

Ditches allow rainwater to soak into the ground or, if there is too much rain, the water flows down the ditch to a creek or stream. Storm drains and pipes send excess rainwater, or runoff, directly to these waterways.

When brush, yard waste, and other debris is left in the ditch or on storm drains, it will act like a dam and prevent water flow. When ditches and pipes become clogged, your yard, your neighbor's yard, or even your street may flood. Public Works offers some simple guidance for setting out brush for collection.

Remember, only rain belongs in the drain.

Report A Concern

To report water pollution within streams, storm drains, or ditches, please call 615-880-2420 or email

Stormwater Management and Regulations

Nashville is a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) that is managed by Metro Water Services Stormwater Division and regulated by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). To comply with state regulations, Metro Codes issued the Illicit Discharge Ordinance (Metro Code 15.64.205--Non-Stormwater Discharges) making environmentally hazardous dumping illegal and violators subject to a fine.

Metro Water Services has also developed appropriate plans and guidelines to meet the requirements of the MS4 Permit including a Stormwater Management Manual and a Public Information and Education Plan. Additionally, our compliance is monitored by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for which we provide an annual NPDES report.

Watershed Stewardship

In 2012, the Mayor's office, Metro Water Services, The Cumberland River Compact, and the Nature Conservancy joined forces to develop the Watershed Stewardship Plan. The plan helped guide decisions for the Richland Creek Watershed Management Plan.