Stormwater Division

What Can Canon City Residents Do To Help?

There are many ways you can help prevent pollutants from being picked up by stormwater runoff and/or being carried to our river and creeks by the storm sewer system. The two most basic ways are:

  • Never dump any material or liquid down a storm drain.  Keep storm drains clean; only stormwater runoff from rain and snow melt should ever go down the drain.
  • Be aware:  Anything that lands on the ground has the potential to enter the storm sewer system and ultimately end up in the Arkansas River.  The activities you do everyday around your home, yard and business can have an impact on the quality of the water in Cañon City. 

Check out these links for general stormwater pollution prevention information:

There are many areas that can impact water quality around your home.  These can include home improvement projects, your yard and garden, pets, vehicle maintenance, car washing and household hazardous waste.  See below for tips on decreasing your impact in each of these areas.

Clean up any spills immediately and make sure to properly dispose of any left-over materials from projects, such as paint, varnishes, scrap materials and sawdust. Clean paint brushes off in a sink; not outdoors.  When using oil-based paints, filter and re-use the paint thinner. Consider giving left over paint to local organizations or schools.  If you do need to dispose of paint, you can add cat litter and let it dry out before placing in the garbage. Pick up construction debris and sweep up sawdust and place in the garbage. Click on the link below for more information.

Excess fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens can wash down a storm drain and pollute our river and creeks. Use these chemicals sparingly and according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Do not apply them when rain is predicted and don’t overwater your lawn. Try to use organic mulch or safer pest control methods when possible.

Don’t place grass, yard clippings, branches or other yard waste in the gutter. These can be washed down a storm drain and put excess nutrients into our waterways. Consider composting or mulching yard waste. Or sweep up the clippings and place in the garbage for collection. 

If at all possible, don’t store landscaping materials in the street. Keep piles of dirt, rock or mulch covered when not in use. You can place straw wattles around the edge of the pile to keep sediment from being washed into the storm drains.

Consider xeriscaping your yard, planting a rain garden or re-directing your downspouts so they drain onto your lawn. For more information, click on the links below:

VEHICLE MAINTENANCE AND WASHING:  Any drips from your vehicles, or any spills that occur when performing maintenance on your vehicles at home, have the potential to enter the storm sewer system and contaminate our river and creeks. Spills and drips should be cleaned up immediately. 

Did you know that 4 quarts of oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of water if it gets to the river? 

You can spread cat litter or another absorbent over the area and then sweep it up and place it in the garbage. Make sure to use tarps and drip pans to catch fluids from leaks and while performing maintenance. Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids by taking them to your local car parts dealers. 

Never, ever dump automotive fluids down a storm drain!

Washing your vehicle at home can send detergents, oil and grease into the street and then into the storm sewer system to the river. Try to use a commercial car wash whenever possible.  If you do wash your vehicle at home, use biodegradable products and wash it on the lawn or an area where the wash water can soak into the ground.  For more information, click on the links below.

PETS: Pet waste can be a significant source of bacteria and nutrients in our river and creeks as well as being smelly and unsightly!  Be a good neighbor and keep your pets’ area clean to reduce odor and potential health problems. When walking your dog, clean up any messes it may leave behind and place the waste in a garbage container. Click on the link below for more information.

OTHER: Keep trash picked up and don’t place liquids into garbage cans. Leaks from garbage dumpsters can result in excess nutrients and chemicals washing into the river. Sweep up debris and dirt from your driveways, sidewalks and patios instead of hosing them down. This not only prevents contaminants from entering our storm sewers, but it also conserves water. Shovel snow onto your lawn – it not only gives your lawn extra water as it melts, but prevents sediment and other contaminants from entering the storm sewer.              

Did you know that cigarette butts are one of the most widespread forms of trash in storm drains and waterways? One estimate puts the annual amount in the US as 90,000 tons! And it can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years for it to decompose!

For those who may have septic systems – make sure they are properly maintained. Leaking septic systems can release bacteria, other pathogens and nutrients which can be washed into drainages and eventually to the river. To get more information, click on the links below.

Keep pools and spas maintained and clean them regularly. Don’t clean filters in the street; instead rinse them out over a dirt area and spade the residue into the soil. Drain pools, spas and hot tubs to the sanitary sewer if possible.  If not, make sure to dechlorinate the water then drain onto your lawn.

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE: Many of the products we use around the house and yard can be hazardous to the environment as well as to humans, pets and wildlife. Some of those products are listed below:        

  • Paints, stains and sealers
  • Paint strippers and thinners
  • Used motor oil, antifreeze and other automotive fluids
  • Cleaning agents and solvents
  • Drain and oven cleaners
  • Fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides
  • Gasoline, kerosene and propane
  • Batteries
  • Mercury thermometers and thermostats
  • Fluorescent lamp bulbs
  • Pool and spa chemicals

Tips for reducing household hazardous waste:

  • Use environmentally friendly substitutes for cleaning agents or the least hazardous products.
  • Always read and follow label directions for use and disposal
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Give left over products to others that can use them. Make sure to always leave the product in the original container with proper labeling.
  • Never dispose of household chemicals by dumping them down the sink or toilet, in the street or storm drain or on the ground. Follow label directions for proper disposal or contact your waste disposal company for direction.

Click on the links below for more information and some suggestions for substitutions.

AROUND YOUR BUSINESS:  Local businesses can have a significant impact on the quality of stormwater runoff. They also have the opportunity to provide examples of good stewardship for protecting and improving local water quality. Some areas that impact runoff are listed below:

PARKING LOTS:  Asphalt and concrete parking lots are impervious surfaces in that they don’t allow rain or snowmelt to soak into the ground.  They collect potential pollutants such as trash, automotive fluids from vehicles that have drips and leaks, and trace metals and hydrocarbons from the brakes, tires and exhausts of vehicles.  Sediment can be deposited from vehicles’ tires and gravel and other chemicals can be left over from snow and ice control.  All of these are then concentrated in stormwater runoff which enters the storm sewer system and is carried directly to the Arkansas River without treatment.

What you can do:  Make sure to keep your parking areas and sidewalks clean by picking up litter and sweeping up sediment and gravel. Use an absorbent material such as cat litter to soak up oil and other automotive fluids.  Sweep up the absorbent and place in the garbage dumpster.

Powerwashing of parking lots, sidewalks and buildings is prohibited in Cañon City, unless all washwater is captured on site and disposed of properly (i.e. in the sanitary sewer).

Parking and landscaped areas can be redesigned to include stormwater management features such as rain gardens, grass swales, vegetated filter strips, disconnected pavement or porous pavement. Consider installing features such as underground oil/water separators and sand filters. Click on LID (Low Impact Development) for more ideas.

DUMPSTERS:  Keep the lid closed on all dumpsters to prevent trash from blowing out.  Do not place liquids in the dumpster unless they are in closed leak-proof containers. Do not place dumpsters near storm drain inlets or where runoff can pick up contaminants from the dumpster and carry them to a storm drain. Business owners and employees should know their site – where storm drain inlets are located and where stormwater runoff from their property goes. 

GREASE MANAGEMENT: Restaurants should have a separate leak-proof dumpster for grease and oil disposal. These dumpsters should have secondary containment around the dumpster such as a concrete berm to capture any spills. Leaks and spills should be cleaned up immediately using absorbent pads or by spreading cat litter over the spill then sweeping up the absorbent and disposing of it in the garbage dumpster. Click on Grease Management for more information.

MATERIAL STORAGE: Materials should be stored indoors or under cover when at all possible. It they do need to be stored outside, they should be kept in leak proof containers or under tarps to prevent contamination of runoff.


RECYCLING: The City of Cañon City participates in the Upper Arkansas Area Regional Recycling Program. The recycling drop-off stations accept newspapers, all glass, tin and aluminum cans. The bins are located at the following sites:

  • The Museum parking lot, 612 Royal Gorge Blvd.
  • Fremont County Family Center, 1401 Oak Creek Grade Rd.
  • Parking lot across the street to the North from Safeway, 1427 Main Street
  • 330 Royal Gorge Blvd, under the 4th St bridge

For more information on the Upper Arkansas Recycling Program contact Beth Lenz at 719-275-1675 or

A NOTE ON IRRIGATION DITCHES, LATERALS AND ROADSIDE DRAINAGES: Never throw any type of trash, left over food, garden and yard waste or pet and animal waste into any of the irrigation ditches which criss-cross Cañon City.  Do not empty left over chemicals into ditches and do not pile debris, etc. on the banks.  This water is used for crop and yard irrigation; anything in the water can end up on fields and gardens.  The irrigation water is also returned to the Arkansas River so any contaminants which get in the irrigation ditches eventually will end up in the river. 


Title 19.10 DRAINAGE, Chapter 19.10.050 CURBS AND GUTTERS states that “All occupants/owners are required to keep the curbs and gutters for drainage that may extend along any roadway between the center of such roadway and the property occupied by them clear of all obstructions to the free flow of water therein”.

Chapter 19.10.060 DITCHES AND CULVERTS states that

A. All occupants/owners are required to keep the private culverts and ditches for drainage and/or irrigation that may extend along any roadway between the center of such roadway and the property occupied by them clear of all obstructions to the free flow of water therein.
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to cause obstruction of the free flow of water within public culverts.

This means that property owners are responsible for keeping the drainage ditches and irrigation laterals which run along their property clear of trash, debris and excess vegetation. By keeping these ditches clean, property owners are also helping improve water quality since stormwater also flows along these ditches.