Riverkeeper: Keep those street drains clean

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 8, 2007

FRANKLIN—Stormwater drains are supposed to be just for that: to catch storm water runoff and excess ground water, keeping it out of roadways.

But Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner says some people don’t think twice about dumping foreign materials into these openings beside the streets, which lead to the river.

&uot;I’ve seen people changing their oil and anti-freeze right there on the street, and kick the oil bottles right into the drain,&uot; he said.

In the past, he had also discovered employees at a local restaurant had been pouring spent cooking oil into a waterway that led to a nearby retention pond.

&uot;That will also eventually get into the river,&uot; he said.

To raise awareness about the issue, the BNRP has undertaken what Turner has dubbed the Tag-A-Drain project.

Weather permitting on Saturday afternoon, he and some seniors from Southampton Academy will be on the streets of the city, identifying potential problem areas and marking the drains with tags.

The markers state, &uot;No dumping, drains to river,&uot; and don the name of the BNRP.

&uot;We have 100 markers,&uot; Turner said. &uot;If we do half of them, I’d be happy. I’d like to do that many first, so we can see how they do.&uot;

Turner refers to the method with which they will be attached to the curb by the drains.

&uot;We are using adhesive made for concrete,&uot; he said, &uot;although they can be attached with a bolt system. But I thought (the adhesive) would be easier for the students.

&uot;It is also more permanent than stenciling.&uot;

The youth will also be able to use the activity for a community service project at school.

&uot;The markers need to be put in places where people are parked all the time,&uot; he said, citing apartment complexes as good target areas.

Turner said besides oils and anti-freeze being harmful to the environment, fertilizers and grass killers are toxic to fish.

&uot;Over fertilizing your yard, and then over watering it is one way these chemicals can get into the river,&uot; said Turner.

&uot;Tag-A-Drain a good project to make people more aware that the stuff they pour out on the street eventually makes its way to the river.&uot;