Stormwater and Surface Water
Public Works  |  Transportation  |  Water  |  Sewer  |  Stormwater  |  Parks  |  Capital Projects

We all know that water runs downhill, which means stormwater also runs downhill.  In a City, the path it takes to get there is not usually a stream.  Typically stormwater travels through a catch basin, pipe, ditch, pond, or some other piece of infrastructure, and it eventually flows to a stream, lake, into the ground, or directly into Puget Sound.  This infrastructure is known as a stormwater system, and stormwater systems have to be maintained to effectively move and handle stormwater.  Yelm's system includes many miles of pipe and roadside ditches, catch basins and ponds. City maintenance staff use everything from shovels to heavy equipment to keep the stormwater system maintained and working properly.  Typical work includes: 
  • Cleaning pipes and drains; 
  • Removing sediment from ditches and ponds; 
  • Cutting tree roots out of pipes; 
  • Fixing small drainage problems by moving or installing new catch basins; 
  • Fixing larger drainage problems through Capital Improvement Projects; and  
  • Using a TV camera to inspect underground pipes to assess their condition. 

For more information regarding stormwater, please check out the Washington State Department of Ecology website.

Reporting Spills

If you witness spills or any suspicious discharges to Yelm's stormwater system, streets, ditches, streams, and wetlands, please call Public Works. Spills could include things like gasoline, sewage, chemicals, paint, oily sheens, foam, algae blooms, or muddy water from construction sites.  

Citizens reporting spills help us to keep our environment clean. It is economically infeasible to have pollution inspectors everywhere 24 hours a day - but you can help!  Report sewer spills or suspicious discharge to the stormwater system by contacting us directly.

The following are good practices to follow for reporting a potential pollution problem and for providing information that will be helpful to the follow-up investigator. 

  • Take good notes: A good set of notes will provide a complete and accurate set of facts for others. Use the following as a checklist when reporting a suspicious event: 
    • Location of spill.  
    • Time/date of spill. Does it occur at a certain time? For example, every day at 6:00 am? 
    • Could you determine the source? 
    • Is it draining into a body of water, or into a catch basin or grate? 
    • How does the water look; is there a sheen? 
    • Do you observe any dead fish? 
    • Are there any odors? 
    • Are there any other witnesses?  
  • Take photographs: Photographic evidence can be very valuable in establishing the presence of pollution, especially where erosion problems exist. When taking photographs, remember to record the time, date, and location that the photo was taken. Wherever possible, try to include an established landmark so that the location of the pollution problem cannot be challenged. Digital photos are very helpful to investigators in understanding the location and severity of certain discharges. 
  • About taking samples: DON'T! Because of the potential for personal injury from contact with dangerous chemicals or entry into unsafe environments, sample collection should be left to local authorities. 
  • Things to watch for: Be careful - safety first! Do not attempt anything dangerous. Do not sample unknown liquids. 


To report a spill, please call Public Works at 360-458-8406 or by email at

To review current engineering and development standards, please click here.

For current information on stormwater and surface water related projects, please click here.

Stormwater Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ Sheet)





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