Before 1795, Boston residents obtained their water from local wells, rain barrels, and a spring on the Boston Common.
A catch basin, which is also known as a storm drain inlet or curb inlet, is an opening to the storm drain system that typically includes a grate or curb inlet at street level where storm water enters the catch basin and a sump captures sediment, debris and associated pollutants. Catch basins are able to prevent trash and other floatable materials from entering the drainage system by capturing such debris by way of a hooded outlet. The outlet pipes for catch basins on combined sewers (sanitary waste and storm water in a single pipe) are also outfitted with a flapper (trap) device to prevent the backflow of any unpleasant odors from pipes. Catch basins act as pretreatment for other treatment practices by allowing larger sediments to settle in the basin sump areas.
It is important to maintain catch basins to prevent storm sewer blockages and minimize the amount of pollutants entering storm sewers which may eventually discharge into local streams and waterways such as the Charles River and Boston Harbor. Clogged catch basins can also result in the ponding of water along streets and parking lots causing a nuisance to motorists, pedestrians and businesses.
Typical maintenance of a catch basin includes the removal of trash and sediments collected in the sump using a catch basin cleaner with a clamshell bucket or a vactor truck. Additional general maintenance activities are performed whenever necessary including repairs to the catch basinís brickwork, frames, covers, and hoods/traps. The Commission has incorporated a computerized work order management system (CASS WORKS) to track cleaning and maintenance activities performed on its catch basins. Information is collected in the work system including the date of cleaning or maintenance repair; amount of sediment removed; and the nature of repair. The Commission utilizes the information collected in its work order management system to optimize future catch basin cleaning and maintenance repair efforts. This scheduled maintenance program reduces street flooding, minimizes nuisance odors and prevents pollution of our waterways.
Parking restrictions may apply during catch basin cleaning operations. Wherever practical, catch basin cleaning is scheduled to coincide with posted parking restrictions for street cleaning being performed by the City of Boston. Temporary parking restrictions may be posted whenever street parking conditions obstruct the Commissionís access to a catch basin for cleaning or maintenance repairs and generally will affect one car length on each side of the basin.
If you have questions or think a catch basin on your street requires cleaning or maintenance, call the Commissionís 24-hour telephone service at 617-989-7000.
When you are clearing your sidewalk or driveway, dispose of waste in trash receptacles instead of sweeping it into the gutters or catch basins.
If leaves or other debris are blocking a catch basin near your house or business, remove and dispose of the debris properly. In addition, during the winter months, try to maintain the openings to catch basins by clearing away any snow or ice.
Become a steward of the environment and help to reduce local street-flooding during storms by clearing debris or snow from the tops of catch basins. Use this Hydrant & Catch Basin Locator Map to locate fire hydrants and catch basins in your neighborhood.