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Keep Liberty Beautiful column: Understand and fight stormwater pollution
Sara Swida
Sara Swida - photo by File photo

“Rain, rain go away.

Come again another day”…and yet it keeps coming day after day after day.

Don’t get me wrong.I love a good rain. Rain brings so many good things to our lives. It cleans the air, it makes plants thrive, it cools the air in the summer time. It enhances our lives in so many ways, but when it comes to repeated gullywashers like the ones we are experiencing right now, that stormwater rain takes on a darker personality. Unfortunately, when stormwater — especially a lot of it like we have had lately — meets litter and debris, stormwater is like “Good Rain Gone Wild.”Stormwater’s dark side emerges when it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants as it flows over pervious surfaces, like sidewalks, roads and concrete driveways.

This process becomes a traveling system for all sorts of items that really can hurt our waterways.

The combination of stormwater and litter and debris is called stormwater pollution. Understanding stormwater pollution is actually quite simple. When it rains, it pours and when it pours, the stormwater process is set in motion.

Stormwater comes from precipitation. Rain water flows over the ground.

Stormwater that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff.

Impervious surfaces, like driveways, sidewalks and streets, prevent the rain water runoff from easily soaking in the ground.

That is why stormwater pollution problems are significant in more populated areas. This runoff becomes polluted as it flows along roads, parking lots, roofs, commercial areas, lawns and farms. As the water flows along, it picks up anything in its path— pollutantssuch as automotive fluids, fertilizers and pesticides, bacteria, sediments, litter, and pet waste.

Stormwater’s “bad side” also can cause flooding and erosion of stream banks — which creates significant problems in our waterways. After a storm, stormwater travels through a system of drains and roadside ditches. It eventually flows directly into local creeks and rivers and can eventually end up at sea. All of the pollutants storm water carries along the way empty into our waters, too. These pollutants wreak havoc in our waters, thanks to the debris and litter we create.

The behavior of individuals and the consequent choices we make each day contribute more to water pollution than the activities of business, industry and large public enterprise. We really are the source of stormwater pollution.

We need to be the solution to this water pollution. So, this is a gentle reminder to prevent the mess that ends up on our roads and is ultimately taken by stormwater into our local waterways.

Water issues affect all of us, no matter who we are or where we live.

So, the next time it starts to rain, remember: we can keep these bad elements, litter, debris, motor oil, sediment, out of our rain water. We can make better choices every day. Help rain be the lovely force of nature that it is, by making sure that the only thing traveling down our storm drains is rain water!

Last week as we were celebrating Keep Liberty Beautiful volunteers and community partners for this fiscal year, SNF was inadvertently left off the list due to a technical error on our part. Since 2006, SNF has been a very supportive partner for this program and a wonderful example of how community partners make such a difference. In 2006 we were planning our firstrivers alive event in our county and I contacted the marketing manager at SNF to share some information about the upcoming event. He immediately offered to help sponsor the event by helping with promoting the event and providing a cookout for the volunteers afterwards. That day in Riceboro we had about 90 volunteers and a great day with the help of SNF and they have helped to support this event as it has grown ever since. In 2017 over 860 citizens participated and I can assure you we could never have supported this large an effort throughout our county without the help of SNF. The next Rivers Alive event is scheduled on Oct.27.

 But over the years SNF has expanded their support to help provide community support for the Citywide Cleanup each year in Riceboro as well as volunteers and they have been a faithful sponsor for our annual Earth Day Celebration in April. At all of these events SNF employees have volunteered with on the on the ground volunteers as well as partnering for overall events. Their support has been recognized by local and state awards for their community efforts. I just want to thank them again for their continuing commitment to our community. Community partners as well as local volunteers are the reason this program has grown over the years.

They are the essence of what this program is all about.

If you would like to find out about joining our efforts or about additional ways to combat stormwater pollution, simply contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or

Also be sure to follow Keep Liberty Beautiful on Facebook.

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