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Keep Liberty Beautiful: Nothing other than water should go down storm drains
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell.

Dr. Karen Bell

Keep Liberty Beautiful

In many communities in Liberty County, storm drains lead to separate storm sewers that are only meant to carry relatively clean rainwater. Separate storm sewers carry the water directly to nearby streams, rivers, and other water bodies without treatment. This differs from the rarer combined sewer systems, where stormwater and sanitary waste are treated before release.

In my subdivision, we see blue doggy poop bags in the storm drains and lake, which should be discarded in a trash can.

Storm drains are designed to take water away from concrete channels along roads and parking areas. Anything but stormwater entering the drain is known as an illicit discharge. They are illicit because these drains are not designed to receive and treat contaminated water before releasing it into the environment.

Examples of things that end up in storm drain illicitly are septic wastewater, carwash wastewater, auto fluids such as used oil and radiator flushing, laundry drain water, household toxins and chemicals, leaking waste containers, pool and hot tub water, and even garbage, grass clippings, and pet waste.

When litter and debris enter the storm drains, they must come out somewhere. Unfortunately, our local waterways get some waste and debris flowing from city storm drains. Our waterways catch the cigarette butts, cups, bottles, cans, fast food trash, and other nasty litter that citizens toss on our sidewalks and streets and ultimately travel down storm drains. All of these items are part of a problem called nonpoint source pollution.

Sadly, the most significant danger to our local waterways is these “nonpoint sources” (NPS), which are challenging to control. What are nonpoint sources of pollution? Nonpoint pollution develops mainly in our homes, backyards, roads, businesses, and farms. You see a lot in more heavily populated areas.

NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or irrigation moving over and through the ground. This past weekend, we got much rain and heavy winds that pushed litter around. As the water runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants. The rain finally moves the waste into creeks, lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground water sources. It is often called Stormwater pollution because those slight downpours of rain wash the pollution and debris into our groundwater and waterways.

According to the EPA, nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water quality problems. Nonpoint pollution is known to harm drinking water, wildlife, and, as we are now learning, our sport and seafood fisheries. As urbanization continues, the impact of nonpoint pollution only worsens. We have to take action to change many of our damaging daily habits and look for proactive ways to keep our waterways clean to create a positive change.

There are plenty of ways to create positive change and make a difference in our community. You can join us every second and fourth Friday of the month at the KLB office for volunteer opportunities from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. You can sign up from our Facebook page or on SignupGenius. com.

Great American Cleanup has started, and each city in Liberty County will have a cleanup from 9 a.m.-12 noon. The City of Midway will start us off on March 25, 2023, at the Liberty County Community Complex. To sign up, visit our website, www.keeplibertybeautiful. org, or signup genius KLB provides all the cleanup supplies (garbage bags, safety vests, work gloves, and even litter reachers) and water for these cleanups. We also offer official Keep Liberty Beautiful T-shirts for all registered volunteers.

Remember, Liberty County Earth Day Celebration is on April 21, 2023, at Bryant Commons, from 3–6 p.m. For more information about Keep Liberty Beautiful and our program, call at (912) 880-4888 or email klcb@libertycountyga. com. Never stop looking for ways to make our community Clean, Green, and Beautiful!

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