KEA and SOLE team up to spread the message of stormwater pollution
On a Wednesday morning a group of motivated students, part of Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education partnered with Kootenai Environmental Alliance to stencil storm drains with the message, “DUMP NO WASTE, FLOWS TO OUR LAKE.” These volunteers dedicated their time to raise awareness about stormwater pollution. Many people are under the assumption that these storm drains, that have become so apart of the landscape we don’t notice them anymore, are connected to a treatment system, but they are not. Instead these drains lead directly out from the city to our beaches and lake. We hope this message will prevent people from directly dumping pollutants down storm drains and raise awareness about the pollutants that enter these drains from our homes, businesses and automobiles. When it rains, water collects pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, soaps from washing your car, trash, metals and vehicle pollutants and transports it directly to the lake.
In all, 24 storm drains were stenciled, not in a highly visible location, but in the alleyways of the downtown core. In these alleys, volunteers collected 2 bags of trash, consisting of overflow from dumpsters and large amounts of cigarette butts. Behind some of our most favorite and popular restaurants along Sherman, stains of dirty water flow from open dumpster containers down to the storm drains. Cigarette butts litter the ground from workers and customers alike due to a lack of ashtrays from businesses and negligence of smokers. Behind a hotel we found a large amount of dog poop lining the alleyway. Are they telling customers to let their dogs poop in the alleyway, which will wash down the drain right next to it? Not to mention there is a dryer that needs serious maintenance to prevent the thick coating of perfumed lint accumulating in the alley. We commend Iron Horse for having the most clean area, we believe due to the fact that they have a large, visible ash tray outside their back door and closed dumpsters. This trash, cooking oil and grease, dog poop and debris all wash down our storm drains into the lake where we swim and play.
Next time you go for a walk downtown, take a peek down the alley to get a glimpse of what goes on behind those businesses we love. Take a look at our stencils and notice where storm drains are in your community. Encourage businesses to be more proactive about what they do with their garbage and pollutants, because it affects you!
This quote from our student volunteer says it all, “helping with stormdrains helped me reinforce the stewardship that I like showing our earth. It made me feel like doing just these simple volunteer tasks can actually greatly impact Earth in a positive way.” Thank you to our lovely student volunteers, who in a joint effort with KEA are increasing awareness in our community about pollution and prevention.