Home Improvement


Paints, solvents, adhesives, and other toxic substances used in home improvement projects and remodeling often make their way into the Madison County storm drain system and do not get treated before reaching the local streams and rivers. This pollutes our drinking water and contaminates waterways, making them unsafe for people and wildlife.

Follow these simple tips to prevent pollution and protect your health. For more information, please contact Stormwater Program Management at (731) 423-2041.


  • Use water-based paints whenever possible. They are less toxic than oil-based paints and easier to clean up. Look for products labeled “latex” or “cleans with water.”
  • Never clean brushes or rinse paint containers in the street, gutter, or near a storm drain. Clean water-based paints in the sink, and oil-based paints with thinner, which can be reused by putting it in a jar to settle out the paint particles and then pouring off the clear liquid for future use.
  • Wrap dried paint residue in newspaper and dispose of it in the trash.
  • When stripping or cleaning building exteriors with high-pressure water, block nearby storm drains and divert wash water onto a designated dirt area. Ask your local wastewater treatment authority if you can collect building cleaning water and discharge it to the sewer.
  • Paint stripping residue, chips, and dust from marine paints and paints containing lead or tributyl tin are hazardous waste. Sweep them up instead of hosing into the street and dispose of them safely at a household hazardous waste collection facility. Call (800) CLEANUP for the facility in your area.
  • Recycle leftover paint at a household hazardous waste collection facility, save it for touch ups or give it to someone who can use it, like a theatre group, school, city, or community organization.

Construction Projects

  • Keep construction debris away from the street, gutter, and storm drains.
  • Schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather.
  • Cover excavated material and stockpiles of soil, sand, or gravel, protected from rain, wind, and runoff.
  • Sweep or scoop up cement washout or concrete dust instead of hosing into driveways, streets, gutters, or storm drains.
  • Prevent erosion by planting fast-growing annual and perennial grass, which can shield and bind soil.
  • Cleaners, solvents, and other toxic home improvement products are too dangerous to dump in the garbage. Recycle them at a household hazardous waste collection facility. Call (800) CLEANUP for the facility in your area.