Environmental staff says, ‘No dumping, drains to stream’

| May 9, 2016 | 0 Comments
Personnel should abide by "no dumping" signs posted at drainage. (Courtesy photo)

Personnel should abide by “no dumping” signs posted at drainage. (Courtesy photo)

Delonte Harrod

Army News Service
Water is important to all of life. That’s no secret.

But according to the Clean Water Act for local governments, helping to protect it is essential to flourishing communities.

One way to do so is to protect and guard the environment from pollutants, according to officials.

Jenny Tolbert, storm water program manager at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., along with Richard LaFreniere, the chief of the Environmental Management Division on JBM-HH, and local service members, want to encourage and remind communities to be good stewards of water.

Two days before Earth Day, they did just that themselves by labeling curbside storm drains with inlet markers that read “No Dumping, Drains to Stream.”

Environmental tips
Tolbert offered some advice to help mitigate the impact of harmful toxins reaching storm drains:
• Block the drains while washing vehicles or use inserts to capture wash water
• Use only biodegradable liquids
• Keep yard waste and trash off the streets and out of gutters
• Use grass enhancers (like fertilizers) sparingly
• Properly dispose of hazardous waste
• Recycle motor oil

“Really, all these pollutants can go out and reach these bigger bodies of water that impact local communities,” Tolbert said. “The pollutants … can reach the people … where all the people are fishing and anything alike. It affects all of us.

“It’s basically a public outreach event to help spread awareness and teach people that they can’t dump things in the drains because it can go straight to the stream.”

Tolbert said she hopes service members  would spread the word. It would help to inform the community about what happens when bad things get into the water stream.

“We are hoping that they can then go and tell their friends,” she said.
Educating community members on how to protect water quality is not unique to the joint base. In fact, many states have used this form of environmental marketing to edify small and large communities about how community members can help to prevent toxic chemicals from entering through storm drains.

According to research and experience, Tolbert said people, in general, toss harmful items to the ground and use storm drains as ways to get rid of toxins. Also, there is a common misconception about the waters’ final destination once it enters the storm drain.

“(People) think it will be treated in a treatment plant or something before heading out,” Tolbert said. “We actually had a few of the Soldiers who volunteered mention that they always thought the storm drains lead to some kind of a treatment facility.”

Due to this common misconception, it is common for objects like cigarette butts, bits of litter, various kinds of chemicals used to wash cars, and fluids from conducting car maintenance to get tossed and washed down the storm drains.

“Unfortunately, these (water) systems can carry pollutants, such as pesticides, bacteria and chemicals through city streets and straight to our waters,” according to an article titled “Storm Water Runoff,” published by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It says, “Storm water pollution can include chemicals, fast food wrappers, cigarette butts, Styrofoam cups, sewage overflow, cooking oil, bacteria from pet waste, used motor oil, fertilizers, paint and construction debris.”

For more information, contact the environmental program at the Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, at 656-5790.

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Category: Community, Sustainability

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