No Dumping 

Girl Scouts help kick off stormwater education program.

Residents of the Sea Isle neighborhood will be forced to think twice before dumping motor oil or grass clippings into their storm drains. Girl Scouts from Troop 385 spent last Saturday afternoon affixing blue and green signs to 40 drains in their neighborhood that read, "No Dumping, Drains to River."

The Girl Scout activity was a kick-off to a stormwater education program hosted by the city's Stormwater Management Division of the Public Works Department. According to stormwater manager Tom Lawrence, they'll be working with youth groups and volunteer organizations to place these signs in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Groups must contact the Public Works Department if they'd like to see the signs in their area, and they must have participants willing to get outside and work for a day.

"This activity is as much of an education thing as it is to have any real effect," said Lawrence. "The kids really think about litter and pollution as they're walking around from drain to drain."

Lawrence says the division is focusing heavily on education now because future enforcement of pollution guidelines will be easier if children grow up knowing what not to put down storm drains.

"There's no way we can always see if people are dumping grass clippings down storm drains. We can't watch every single house every single day, so education is really the way you solve a problem like this," said Lawrence.

The Stormwater Management division used to mark various drains around the city with paint and stencils. Some older marked drains display a spray-painted blue stenciled fish with a white background and the same "no dumping" message. However, the paint eventually washes down the storm drain, creating extra pollution, so the division has purchased environmentally friendly plastic disks that affix to drains with a special glue. n

E-mail: bphillips@memphisflyer.com

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