Where Do Catch Basins Fit into a Storm Water Management System?

While catch basins are essential for capturing debris and consolidating surface runoff, they’re just one part of a much larger system. It’s not possible to design quality custom catch basins without understanding how they fit into the larger management system. Explore the entire storm water management system, from start to end, to make sure you’re placing your catch basins at the right points.

Surface Level Collection

The first stage of any system involves gathering together all the water on the surface of the ground. From rain that falls on the streets to puddles draining off of lawns, all that water has to run together and towards the next level of collection. Sidewalks, curb edges, sloped pavements, and even parking lots are widely used for this level of the system. Subtle sloping directs run off towards centralized drains and basins ready to capture the water.

Catch Basins and Curb Drains

Drains cut into curbs are the next level of collection in an urban or suburban storm water system. These drains are often combined with catch basins to remove debris. Catch basins are also commonly attached to surface drains embedded into the lowest point of paved areas like parking lots. Drains are just openings in the ground or curb that attached to a drainpipe, but catch basins are slightly more complicated. These basins are designed to catch run off full of debris and separate the trash out from the water. Without catch basins, runoff pipes and culverts would quickly fill up with everything from fast food wrappers to twigs and sticks. Since catch basins trap debris, they naturally need routine cleaning to continue functioning properly.

Freestanding Drains

Surface drains are a little harder to install than curb-mounted ones, because more excavation is needed below the surface for the catch basin and drain pipes. These drains are particularly prone to clogging if they’re installed without a basin. Since they’re surrounded by pavement and have a relatively small opening at the grate or manhole cover, it’s not easy to access the inside of the drain for cleaning. Installing a catch basin creates extra space for accessing the outlet pipes and any debris obscuring their flow.

Pipes, Culverts, and Trenches

After water enters the sub-surface system through a drain or catch basin, it’s on to the drainpipes. Most of these pipes are underground, but sometimes they open into trenches to allow water to evaporate as it flows. Culverts are similar to pipes but only run a short distance to allow storm water to flow under a road without causing erosion. Storm water often runs under the surface for a while and then re-emerges into a trench or basin open to the air. The safety of using open trenches depends on the density of the population in the area and the chemical composition of the average storm water runoff.

Outlets and Retaining Ponds

While many storm water systems culminate by dumping the water from the drainpipes directly into a lake, river, or ocean, others rely on retaining ponds instead. Holding the storm water in a well-constructed and lined pond is the only option if there’s no natural body of water to absorb it. These pond structures also adapt to flooding conditions better than other storm water discharge options. No matter how you finish off the system, the water eventually returns to the environment and resumes the natural cycle of evaporation and condensation.

Making the most out of storm water supplies means designing a complex and easy to maintain system. By understanding how the various parts work together for seamless run off control, you can easily design a storm water system for any municipal purpose. Reach out to BTL Liners for help if you’re searching for a liner to use in any part of the system.


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