Local storm drains littered with trash affecting water quality

PADUCAH, KY — Cigarettes, plastic bottles, and foam cups are just some of the trash found inside thousands of local storm inlets, impacting our waterways.

Paducah Storm and Water Drainage Engineer Eric Hickman says this is the time of year when he inspects the nearly 6,000 storm inlets across the city. “You see a lot of interesting things, but a lot of it is your plastics, your floatables, those 20-ounce bottles that people, you know, they get their food, they get done with it and throw it out the window,” he says.

Hickman says the next big rainfall then sweeps that trash into nearby storm inlets, which connect to several local waterways. “People don’t know where their trash goes to, and this will all end up in our creeks, our river, places that we play,” he says. “It really hinders the environment that we live in.”

Hickman is worried if we don’t do something now, we could see a drop in our water quality in the future.

“What I believe is it’s a culture change,” says Hickman. “I think the cleaner it becomes, people are less likely to pollute and to litter. If they see litter already on the ground, I think, ‘What’s the big deal? I’ll just throw my cup out.’ It’s part laziness on the individual.”

Hickman says to throw your trash in the trash — it’s a simple solution to an ongoing problem.

If Hickman finds a storm inlet packed with trash, he says he’ll call a street crew to clean it out.

He says you can also help mitigate the problem by keeping your ditches clean and inlets clear of leaves and debris.