Environmental Management Council

Public Service Announcements

Who Knows Where The Storm Drain Flows?
You Will – Soon!

Have you seen them?  Every once in a while, you might notice somebody pouring stuff into a storm drain – maybe used oil, or old gasoline out of a rusty can.  Or, maybe somebody is emptying a paint can – after all, waste haulers won’t take the can unless it is empty and dry.  Should you be concerned?  After all, this stuff gets diluted with all the water flowing through the storm drains, right?

Wrong!  Materials dumped into storm drains often are not diluted – unless the dumping takes place during the middle of a rain shower, there isn’t much flow.  Also, that used oil or leftover paint dumped into a storm drain isn’t treated at the wastewater plant on the edge of town, because most storm drains are not linked to sanitary sewers.  Instead, storm drains are designed to remove storm run-off away from streets directly into local streams, rivers and other drainage channels.

This storm-drain design makes sense – unless somebody has dumped a noxious substance into the drains.  In such a situation, storm drains become a very effective means of contaminating wide areas of a watershed, creating problems that stretch for miles downstream.

Most people who dump into storm drains do not know what problems are caused by their habit.  What they know is: “Out of sight, out of mind.”  What if there was a way to let these people know that they are hurting the entire watershed?

There is such a way, and Lions Clubs in St. Lawrence County are doing it.  Lions Club members, students from local schools and colleges, and other volunteers will be out in the months of October and November, stenciling village storm drains in Potsdam, Canton and other communities with a message that reads: “This drains into a local river.”  By identifying these drains, people will be discouraged from tossing waste oils, garbage and other undesirable materials into the drain.

This cooperative venture is sponsored by the St. Lawrence County Lions Clubs, the St. Lawrence County Environmental Management Council, and the St. Lawrence County Soil & Water District.  For further information on this project, or to participate in this worthwhile activity, please contact the St. Lawrence County Environmental Management Council at 379-2292.

“EMC - Everybody Must Care!”

Contact:  John Tenbusch, St. Lawrence County Planning Office, 379-2292, or e-mail to: John F. Tenbusch.

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