Author: Pete Wolfley


An incident in our Public Works yard reminded us of the importance of keeping our dumpster areas clean. If you have a dumpster at your business or apartment building, you may want to take heed of this anecdote.

On Monday, February 5, a visual inspection of our yard showed that someone had tried to dispose of a bag of lime (crushed limestone) in one of our dumpsters, but the bag’s contents didn’t all make it into the dumpster. Lime has many uses, but it has the effect of altering the pH of water it comes in contact with, making water more alkaline than natural. This incident served as a quick reminder to regularly check dumpster areas for messes. We were able to get the powder swept up quickly.

While we strive to have a yard that is clean and organized at all times, sometimes things happen. The important thing is to respond to a potentially negative situation quickly and correctly. We are so glad that the lime could be contained and cleaned up.

An incident in our Public Works yard reminded us of the importance of keeping our dumpster areas clean. If you have a dumpster at your business or apartment building, you may want to take heed of this anecdote.

On Monday, February 5, a visual inspection of our yard showed that someone had tried to dispose of a bag of lime (crushed limestone) in one of our dumpsters, but the bag’s contents didn’t all make it into the dumpster. Lime has many uses, but it has the effect of altering the pH of water it comes in contact with, making water more alkaline than natural. This incident served as a quick reminder to regularly check dumpster areas for messes. We were able to get the powder swept up quickly.

While we strive to have a yard that is clean and organized at all times, sometimes things happen. The important thing is to respond to a potentially negative situation quickly and correctly. We are so glad that the lime could be contained and cleaned up.

What is there that might be making the area around your dumpster dirty? Take a few minutes this week and make sure the debris on your property is cleaned up. This will make a positive impact on tenants and customers that rely on your dumpster to be a safe place to get rid of their solid wastes.


Winding southwesterly from Trail Lake in the High Uintas to Utah Lake just downstream of Orem, Provo River is one of the area’s natural wonders. It is home to three Blue Ribbon Fisheries between Jordanelle Reservoir and Provo Canyon. These sites are great locations for fly fishing and yield brown trout and other notable fishes in abundance.

Its banks also provide a multitude of opportunities for running hiking, and biking, especially along paved trails from Utah Lake to Vivian Park and in Midway in the Heber Valley.

The Provo River is also classified as a high quality water by the State of Utah. It is a source of drinking water for many municipalities. With a little treatment, the water from the river is safe for consumption by residents in many cities, including Orem.

In 1996, the City of Orem established the storm water utility. This entity was formed to establish the means to handle storm water runoff through a system of conveyances and sumps. This system is not only meant to dissipate the quantity of storm water runoff from rainstorms and snow melt, it is also in place to minimize the negative impacts to water bodies from harmful pollutants that can accompany storm water flows.

For these reasons and more, the Provo River deserves protection, Our City Storm Water Utility has included several items in our Storm Water Management Plan that aim at keeping the Provo River in good shape. Construction sites within 500 feet of the river are inspected more frequently. Also all storm water outfalls that drain into the Provo River are inspected annually and sampled regularly to confirm that discharges are as clean as they can be. These areas close to the Provo River are also included in our high priority area for illicit discharge detection activities.

All in all, we strive to keep the River clean. If you see something that could be a hazard or could endanger the quality of the water in the Provo River, give us a call or send us an email. We want to preserve the Provo River as a safe source water and a great location for fishing, tubing, walking, running and biking.

To learn more, visit any of these:


It’s fall and we have all enjoyed the changing colors of trees for this year. Now is the time to deal with everything that has fallen as the trees get ready for winter. We have all probably observed someone who decided to clear their lawn by blowing leaves, grass clippings or other debris into the street, rather than bagging it and throwing it away in their green waste can. We came across a situation yesterday that perfectly shows why you shouldn’t blow your autumn leaves into the street. As you can see the leaves are several inches thick and the pile extends almost out into the driving lanes. Here are some reasons why this is not the best practice for dealing with yard wastes.

  1. The leaves are a safety hazard. Because there is no way of knowing the road conditions under the leaves, bicyclists that use this route are forced to go out into the driving lanes to pass this obstacle.
  2. The leaves can block storm drains. Try watching a storm drain inlet covered in leaves in a rain storm. It only takes a few leaves to back up the water into a large puddle. This creates nuisance flooding and can potentially cause an additional safety hazard. It can even lead to property damage.
  3. Water quality can also be affected by the accumulation of decayed leaves in storm drains. Storm water is not treated before it is discharged into Utah Lake, the Provo River or our groundwater, so the concentration of nutrients in the leaves have the potential to contribute to algae blooms next summer.

Keeping these things in mind, we encourage you to clean up your leaves by bagging them and putting them in your green waste can. If they don’t fit, you can take them to the North Pointe Solid Waste Facility.

Water Rates

State law requires all water providers to establish an increasing rate structure for culinary water. The current rates per 1,000 gallons are:

Tier 1 – $0.83
Tier 2 – $1.04
Tier 3 – $1.23
Tier 4 – $1.46

In the 2016 General Session, the Utah State Legislature passed the “Water System Conservation Pricing” bill which requires all retail water providers, including the City of Orem, to establish an increasing rate structure for culinary water. To comply with this new law, the Orem City Council adopted the following tiered rate structure:

Flow Allotment by Meter Size (per 1,000 gallons per month)

Meter Size (inches)Tier 1Tier 2Tier 3Tier 4

Questions about your bill can be addressed by calling 801-229-7275.

Illicit Discharges

Storm Water regulations define an “illicit discharge” as “any discharge to a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) that is not composed entirely of storm water” (except exempted discharges). Common sources of non-storm water, dry weather discharges in urban areas include:

  • Apartments and homes
  • Car washes
  • Restaurants
  • Landfills
  • Gas stations
  • Manufacturing

These so-called “generating sites” may potentially discharge sanitary waste water, septic system effluent, vehicle wash water, wash down from grease traps, motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline and fuel spills, among other substances. Although these illicit discharges can enter the storm drain system in various ways, they generally result from either direct connections or indirect connections.

Studies indicate that dry weather discharges contribute significant pollutants to receiving waters. The detection and elimination of illicit discharges are important to protect and restore urban waterways.This minimum control measure of the Storm Water Management Program is designed to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff to receiving waters. It requires the development and implementation of a program to identify and eliminate sources of illicit discharge and illegal dumping.

You can learn more about illicit discharges from this fact sheet published by the EPA.

Irrigation Information

While The City of Orem does not own nor manage the irrigation canals that run through the City, some runoff from streets does go into irrigation canals. Here are some of the common questions we get from citizens regarding irrigation:

Q: There’s water running down the street but its not raining. Should I report this and if so who do I call?
A: It is fairly common for overflow from irrigation to run down City streets between the months of April and October. If you see water running down the gutter, you should report it if there is imminent danger of property damage. You can call 229-7500 during normal business hours and 229-7070 after hours to report emergency flooding situations.

Q: I am concerned about an open ditch that runs near my house. Who should I contact to get the open ditch put into a pipe?
A: Cleaning and changing pipe configurations are handled by the irrigation companies that operate in the City. To determine who to call, you can use the map below. (When using the address search, remember to include “Orem, UT”.)

Storm Water Quality Credit Package

The City of Orem is unique among Wasatch Front municipalities in terms of how storm water is managed within the City limits. Rather than a traditional storm water system which consists of piping, detention and conveyance structures, a significant portion of the City’s storm water system consists of hundreds of dry sumps which are located on both private and public property throughout the City. During storm events, much of the City’s runoff is diverted into these dry sumps and infiltrated into the ground water system. The majority of these sumps are owned privately. Generally, storm water flow into sumps is not pretreated for the removal of pollutants, nor is the storm water effluent monitored for potential contaminants.

On May 14, 1996, the Orem City Council passed an ordinance that created a Storm Sewer Utility for the City. On May 26, 1996, the City Council passed a resolution that allows the Storm Sewer Utility to give water quality credits, which reduces the monthly bill, for any non-single family resident that qualifies for the credit. To qualify for the credit, a business may install a structure or device that reduces or eliminates pollutants from its storm water runoff before it enters a dry well (sump), irrigation ditch, city storm drain, or waters of the State of Utah.

The City of Orem selected Hansen, Allen & Luce, Inc. to assist them in identifying pollutants which may potentially be present in storm water runoff, developing a list of Best Management Practices (BMPs) which could be implemented to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the storm drainage system, and to assist the City in developing a fee credit program for businesses which implement storm water pollution control measures. HA&L was subsequently authorized by the City of Orem on August 23, 1996 to complete the storm water runoff pollution and control study. The storm water credit program is the result of that effort.

The purpose of the storm water credit program is to recognize the efforts of businesses in reducing and/or eliminating storm water pollution by granting storm water quality credits, which reduces the monthly bill, for any non-single family resident that qualifies for the credit. To qualify for the credit, a business must implement source and/or treatment controls that reduce or eliminate pollutants from its storm water runoff before it enters a dry well (sump), irrigation ditch, city storm drain, or waters of the State of Utah. Storm water credits will not be granted for use of storm water sumps.

The Storm Water Quality Credit Package will be your guide to applying for and renewing storm water credit.

Storm Water Resources for Home Owners

What can I do to help keep storm water clean?

It’s the simple stuff that helps the most:

  • Do not dump chemicals, oil, and cleaning fluids down storm drains.
  • Do not litter. Keep our streets and water clean by putting trash in its place.
  • Don’t leave pet waste. Dog and cat waste causes bacteria in our storm drains.
  • Keep the storm gutters free of leaves, dirt, and debris.
  • Recycle used oil and antifreeze.
  • If you see anyone illegally dumping or discharging chemicals in gutters or strom drains, please call the storm water hotline immediately at 801-229-7577.

Car Care For Cleaner Water

Here are some suggestions to limit the impact of cars on stormwater quality
Recycle Oil – Old motor oil can be reprocessed and used again and again. Just put it in a container with a tight lid such as a plastic jug or metal can, and take it to a community oil recycling center like Orem City Public Works (1450 W 550 North).
Use Commercial Car Washes – Dirty water from the car wash is cleaned and recycled or it goes to a wastewater treatment plant where pollutants are removed. If you wash cars on a paved driveway or parking lot, the dirty water and the phosphates in the soaps end up in our lakes and streams.
Keep Your Car Tuned Up – Cars that run smoothly burn less fuel and causes less pollution. Regular tune-ups also reduce the amount of hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides and other pollutants that come out of your car’s exhaust pipe.
Repair Leaks – Spots on your driveway or garage floor mean the engine, transmission or radiator in your car is leaking. Have the leak repaired right away. Then clean up the spot by using cat litter or another absorbent material to soak up the spill. Sweep up the cat litter and put it in a sealed bag in the trash for disposal.
Recycle Antifreeze – Recycle antifreeze at Orem Public Works. Used antifreeze should not be flushed down the drain because it has pollutants that may cause problems for sewage treatment plants or septic tanks. Antifreeze is also very poisonous to people and animals.
Return Used Batteries – Return your used car or truck battery to the place where you bought it. Be careful – old batteries may leak acid.
Check Tire Pressure – One of the simplest and cheapest ways to prevent pollution is to keep your tires inflated. For every pound that your tires are under-inflated, your car loses 1% in gas mileage. Under-inflated tires also wear out sooner.
Use Up Paints, Polishes and Cleaners – Paints, polishes and special cleaners for cars are usually flammable and toxic. Try to buy only what you need. To dispose of small amounts, leave the container open in a safe place away from children, pets, wildlife and flames. When the liquid is gone and the substance is hard, cap the container and put it in the trash.
Drive Less – Driving less is the best way to prevent pollution. Water quality tests show that the most polluted runoff comes from heavily traveled streets and highways.
From Car Care for Cleaner Water – University of Wisconsin Extension

Yard Care For Cleaner Water

Fertilizing The Lawn

Nearly everyone appreciates a well cared for lawn. To achieve the healthiest green lawn, many people turn to chemical fertilizers. Unfortunately, lawn fertilizers pose several risks to human health and water quality. Hazardous chemicals in fertilizers include ammonium nitrate, ammonium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, pesticides and potassium chloride. Fertilizers can be corrosive to skin, eyes and mucous membranes and can potentially affect water quality.

Fertilizer Use – When using fertilizers, read labels carefully to ensure that you are properly protected and that you use the right amount of fertilizer for your lawn. Don’t fertilize before predicted heavy rain and be careful along lawn edges. Fertilizer left on sidewalks and driveways can easily be washed into storm water. It is suggested that slow-release fertilizer is less-hazardous. Look for bags that have the word “WIN” on them. This indicates that the fertilizer contains water insoluble nitrogen.

Leftover Fertilizer – If you have fertilizer left over, store it in a sealed and labeled plastic bag and keep it away from children, pets and water. If you don’t want to store it, it is best to find someone who can use it.

Disposal – Empty fertilizer bags that do not contain pesticides and weed killers can be disposed of in the garbage. If the fertilizer contains pesticide, please follow directions under “pesticides” on your product’s label to dispose of properly. If you can’t find any way of using up the product, you may dispose of it by placing it in a heavy duty plastic bag. Please call the North Utah County District Landfill at 225-8170 and let them know you are bringing in fertilizer. This makes sure the fertilizer is handled safely.

Reducing The Need For Fertilizer – You can reduce the amount of fertilizer you need by frequently mowing your lawn with a mulching mower to a height of three inches and leaving the clippings on the lawn. Using compost and soil amendments also reduces the need for fertilizer. A guide to composting is available in PDF format at the Utah State University extension website at Or you can call them at 370-8460 with questions about lawn and garden care.

Source – Eliminating Household Hazardous Waste. Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Boise, Idaho. 1999. Pp 12-13.

Some Thoughts on Pet Waste

Many people enjoy having pets and caring for them. But have you thought about the impact pets may have on water quality? In reality, pet waste can be a major polluter. Studies in Seattle have shown pet waste to be the main pollutant in one its main waterways. So what problems can occur when pet owners allow pet waste to be washed into storm water? There are two pollutants that come from pet waste that can cause problems for water quality: nutrients and bacteria..

Nutrients from pet waste cause a process known as eutrophication. This leads to an increase in weed and algae growth. The weeds and green water can make boating and fishing difficult or undesirable. This greening of the water can block sunlight affecting bottom-rooted plants. When nutrient levels lessen, the weeds and algae decompose using oxygen and possibly causing fish kills. Other sources of nutrient pollution include leaves and grass clippings as well as excess fertilizers.

Bacteria from pet wastes can cause a variety of symptoms from nausea to diarrhea to rash and even death in people with weakened immune systems.

City ordinance requires pet owners to clean up after pets. Violations can result in fines. So how can a pet owner take care of waste responsibly? There are a couple of options for pet waste disposal. The first option is to bag the pet waste and throw it away in the garbage. This is a legal way to dispose of pet waste. Another suggestion is to bury the waste. It is suggested that you dig a hole at least one foot deep. You can then place three to four inches of waste in the hole and cover it with at least eight inches of soil. Keep buried waste away from vegetable gardens and water sources. Don’t add pet waste to compost. It will not get hot enough to kill pathogens in pet waste. Flushing pet waste down the toilet is against City Code.

We should remember that pets don’t pollute, people do. Please clean up after your pets.

Sources –
Johnson, Carolyn. Pet Waste And Water Quality. University of Wisconsin Extension. Madison, Wisconsin, 1999.
Eggan, Dan. “Creek Pollution Pinned On Pooches”. Washington Post. June 8, 1998. p C1.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Public Education and Outreach on Storm Water Impacts”.
City of Seattle. “What’s the Problem With Pet Waste?”.
University of Wisconsin Extension. “Brown Water, Green Weeds”. Madison, Wisconsin. 2001.


Most paint has four components:

  • The resin is the main part of the paint which forms a film on the surface. It is typically a non-hazardous component like linseed, or acrylic.
  • Solvent keeps the paint a liquid until the solvent evaporates after painting. In oil-based paint, the solvent is derived from a petroleum distillate and can include hazardous ingredients like mineral spirits, toluene and xylene. The solvent in latex paint is water.
  • Pigments provide the color and covering power. The major pigments used presently are relatively nontoxic. Some highly colored pigments may contain heavy metals such as chromium, cadmium or arsenic. Older paints may contain lead.
  • Paint may also have additives. Some types of additives include stabilizers, dryers, thickeners, and preservatives. Some latex paints contain a mercury-based fungicide preservative.

Here are some tips for using paint. Avoid having leftover paint by buying only the amount you need for the job. Use up any leftover paint. If you cannot use it up, see if a friend or neighbor is willing to use it.

If paint is unusable, dispose of it properly. Never put liquid paint in the trash or pour it in a drain or storm drain. Small amounts of paint can be solidified. If you choose to solidify paint, be sure to do so in a well ventilated area. Make sure there are no possible sources of spark or fire, and wear protective gloves.

To solidify small quantities, such as an inch or two in the bottom of a can, simply remove the lid, add non-flammable absorbent and stir until all the liquid is absorbed. When the paint is solidified, place the absorbent and paint cans inside a garbage bag, seal the bag tightly and dispose of it in the trash destined for the landfill.


Storm Water Fees

What is this “Storm Sewer” fee?
In 1995, the City Council appointed a group of Orem residents, business, governmental and private individuals to an Ad Hoc Committee, entitled the Citizen’s Storm Water Advisory Committee. After eight months of review and research, the Committee recommended to the City Council that the City adopt and create a Storm Sewer Utility. On March 26, 1996, the City Council passed the ordinance creating this utility which began operation June 1, 1996. The storm sewer fee was established at that time to fund the operations of this new utility. Each year, as part of the budget process, the City Council reviews the fee charged for storm water.

What are some of the major issues that were looked at?
The committee saw water quality as a major concern. Storm water may carry with it pollutants that potentially can contaminate the City’s culinary wells, as well as irrigation canals, and springs. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently enforces strict storm water regulations for cities larger than 100,000 in population. Phase 2 of those regulations, which went into effect in March of 2003, is aimed at cities between 50-100,000. Orem’s population is estimated at 90,000 and growing.

Why did the City decide on an “impervious” surface fee?
When property is developed with buildings, pavement, compacted gravel or dirt, patios, artificial turf, etc., water is prevented from getting into the soil. These areas are termed impervious surfaces because they restrict natural infiltration. Impervious surfaces concentrate storm water flows and increase runoff from properties. Impervious surface fees seemed the fairest way to comply with the needs and issues of funding the work that needs to be done.

How is the storm sewer fee money spent?
Revenue from this fee is used for the two aspects of the storm sewer program.

First, the money goes to improve the quality of the storm water runoff before it enters our Utah Lake, Provo River, and underground aquifers. It also allows the City to enforce EPA regulations on those violating the law, and to improve our public education program. The money will also go towards developing standards and regulations to ensure water quality in the future.

Second, the money goes towards flood prevention through construction projects that improve runoff collection. It also allows the City to increase maintenance of existing and future infrastructure.

What is an “ESU”?
An ESU is an Equivalent Service Unit equal to the average impervious surface of a residential property in Orem. The Citizen’s Committee hired an engineering firm to measure all commercial and governmental properties in Orem as well as perform a statistical analysis of the average amount of impervious surface area of a typical Orem home. A single family home has an average impervious surface area of 2700 square feet. This is equal to 1 ESU.

All non-single family parcels (commercial lots, retail properties, apartments, schools, churches, government facilities) pay a multiple of this base rate according to their impervious area. For example, a business with 27,000 square feet of impervious surface is assessed 10 ESU’s. That business pays a monthly fee of $7.35 per ESU or $73.50.

Why just one flat rate for residential properties?
Most residences are very similar in their impervious areas. This was confirmed when we analyzed a sample of homes (200) in the City and found that 95% of all homes are clustered very closely in terms of impervious area.

Where can I get more information?
Call and talk to us at 229-7500. Your call will be forwarded to the individual that can best answer your questions.

Storm Water Structures

Traditional storm water systems are made up of structures used to collect runoff and convey that water to a nearby river or lake. The following elements that make up the City of Orem’s storm drainage system.

Catch Basins or Drain Inlets

These structures are where water goes from the surface to the underground pipes. The most common elements of these structures are the curbface inlet which is an opening cut into the curb with a grated inlet in the gutter. Catch basins are designed to have a depression below where the water enters the pipe. This allows for sediment to accumulate here.

Pre-Treatment Inlets or Oil/Water Separators

Pre-treatment inlets are drain inlets that are designed to separate water from some of the most common pollutants. Sediment and heavier particles settle to the bottom. Oils and other floating debris stay on the top while water from the mid section is discharged into the storm water drainage pipes or into a sump. You can use the following links to learn more about these structures.


These structures are 5-10 ft. deep concrete or corrugated metal cylinders with holes drilled into the sides. Sumps are designed to allow water to drain out into the subsurface soils. They are an effective way to disburse water.


Manholes are placed at regular intervals along storm drainage pipes to allow access for cleaning, maintenance and monitoring. They are also placed at location where two or more pipes come together. They are generally made of concrete or corrugated metal. Some manholes also have pre-treatment devices as discussed in the section about pre-treatment inlets.

Diversion Structures

There are some locations in our storm drainage system where it would be beneficial to choose which direction the water is going to flow. In these cases, we use diversion structures to affect the direction of flow. This is accomplished by opening and closing head gates. These structures can also be used to regulate the volume of flow passing the structure.


The storm water system has nearly 90 miles of underground pipes. They range in size from 12″ to 96″ in diameter and made of concrete, corrugated metal and high density polyethylene.

Channels or Ditches

The City makes use of a few ditches and channels to help aid storm drainage. The largest channel that takes Orem storm water is the Provo River on the east side of town and Lindon Hollow is the largest on the west side of town. Most of the channels and ditches in the main part of town are owned and operated by irrigation companies to supply water to orchards and gardens. These irrigation ditches usually carry very little storm water.


The end of the pipe or channel where water discharges into Utah Lake or a another water body that the City does not maintain like Provo River is called an outfall. Outfalls are important because they mark the transfer of responsibility from one governing agency to another. They also provide locations for water sampling that allow us to evaluate the quality of the runoff we discharge. If things are not they way we expect them to be, outfalls provide starting points to do investigation and find out why.

Detention Basins

Detention basins are depressed areas designed to take large amounts of water in and let the water out at a controlled rate. This allows the City to make use of smaller pipes downstream of the basins saving the City money on installation and maintenance of systems. Examples of detention basins can be found at the Skate Park at 400 North and 1200 West and Bonneville Park at 800 North 1600 West.

Drainage Swales

A swale is a vegetated, sloped depression that allows water to flow through, but at a slower pace than in other channels. the sub surface is constructed in such a way that it encourages infiltration to ground water.

Green Roofs

These specially designed roofs are meant to grow vegetation and allow water to be filtered by plants and soils before being discharged. There are not many of these in the City but we hope see some in the future.

Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a depression planted to take the runoff from a parking lot, road, driveway or roof top so that the runoff has a chance to be absorbed.


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