Catch Basin 101

Watch a video on how to catchbasin-hhmaintain your catch basin. This short video will help you understand what a catch basin is, how it works and why it's important to maintain it. This video is one of a series of videos on pollution prevention.

What are catch basins?

Catch basins are chambers, usually with grates as covers, that collect stormwater and provide some contaminant removal by allowing solids to settle and light materials to float. Catch basins discharge to stormwater systems that discharge to nearby water bodies, such as streams, wetlands or the ocean. Catch basins may also called stormwater rehabilitations units (SRUs).

Catch basins are very common in parking lots and on streets.

Why clean catch basins?

If catch basins are not cleaned, they fill with the materials that settle or float. When they are too full, contaminants can escape into the stormwater system, or the catch basin can overflow, which may cause flooding. If left, the contaminants can concentrate to hazardous waste levels which are expensive to dispose of.

What wastes are in catch basins?

Catch basins can contain litter, car fluids (oils, gas, antifreeze, etc.), metals, sediments, leaves, sand, dirt, grit and/or soil.

Who is responsible for cleaning catch basins?

Property owners/waste generators are responsible for cleaning out catch basins. Typically, catch basins are cleaned by pumping out the contents. There are companies that provide this service. You can find some of these companies in our Trucked Liquid Waste Service Providers Directory.  

Disposing of catch basin waste


To properly determine whether a catch basin contains hazardous waste, expensive laboratory analysis and comparison to limits is required. However, there are visual and other clues that give an indication of whether catch basin waste is hazardous, such as:

  • Oil & grease sheen
  • Discolouration
  • Surface staining around
  • Unusual odours (like gasoline or oil)

If the indicators are present, a hauler should treat the waste as hazardous, and save the costs of laboratory analysis. Also, be aware of and prevent collection of effluent from any nearby pollutant sources, such as fuel stations, vehicle servicing facilities, industrial areas, recyclers, scrap yards and electrical transformers. If waste is hazardous, it must be hauled by a licensed transporter.

Preventing spills can reduce the need for catch basin cleaning.

Record Keeping

Catch basin owners are responsible for ensuring that records are kept for a reasonable amount of time. Records include:

  • Inspection records
  • Maintenance records
  • Records of waste removal including manifests

Some municipalities have enacted bylaws that require inspection and routine maintenance and record keeping on catch basins.

When transporting and disposing of catch basin waste, the manifest form should be completed by the hauler or waste generator.

Hazardous Wastes

If the waste is hazardous, a hauler is required to hold or obtain a license to transport from the BC Ministry of Environment (MOE). Also, a hazardous waste manifest form must be completed by the generator or hauler. These forms must to be distributed to BC MOE, the waste generator, the waste hauler, and the waste receiver.

Maintenance Recommendations

  • Clean out your catch basins at least once per year, more if necessary, or per municipal regulations.
  • Inspect wastes and classify as standard or hazardous.
  • Maintain records
  • Keep records on site

Why use a qualified hauler?

Qualified haulers will know where to properly dispose of waste and whether waste should be classified as hazardous. Haulers need a license from the BC Ministry of Environment to haul hazardous waste.

Disposal Options