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Keep Liberty Beautiful: Storm drain debris and nonpoint sources
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell.

Dr. Karen Bell, Keep Liberty Beautiful.

Keep Liberty Beautiful was very busy preparing for the countywide Great American Cleanup these past few weeks. In one day, with the help of local partners, local cities, national sponsors and volunteers, Liberty County collected more than 4,700 pounds of trash and cleaned more than 25 miles. During the cleanup, the amount of debris in and near storm drains was notable.

Did you ever wonder where that litter and debris goes to when it is washed down the storm drains in town? Sadly, the pond at Bryant Commons catches a lot of it like, cigarette butts, cups, bottles, cans, fast food trash and other nasty litter. The litter originates when people toss waste on our sidewalks and streets, and ultimately, it travels down city storm drains. All of these items are part of a problem called nonpoint source pollution.

Unfortunately, the most significant danger to our local waterways is these “nonpoint sources” (NPS), which are challenging to control. Nonpoint pollution develops mainly in our own homes and backyards, on our roads and in our businesses. It also comes from farms and in more heavily populated areas.

NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or irrigation moving over and through the ground. As the water runoff moves, it picks up debris. It carries away natural and humanmade pollutants, finally depositing them into creeks, lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and even our underground drinking water sources. It is often called stormwater pollution. Those slight downpours of rain wash the pollution and debris into our groundwater and waterways. These pollutants include:

• Oil, grease and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production.

• Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks.

• Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines.

• Bacteria and nutrients from animals, pet wastes and faulty septic systems.

• And, of course, litter. According to the EPA, NPS pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems and is known to have harmful effects on drinking water and wildlife. As urbanization continues, the impact of nonpoint pollution only worsens. We must take action to change many of our detrimental daily habits and also look for proactive ways to create positive change.

There are still plenty of ways that you can be involved in creating positive change in the weeks to come this spring. The Great American Cleanup will continue through June 30. You can visit our website www.keepliberty or go to AmericanCleanup2022 to sign up. KLB provides all the cleanup supplies (garbage bags, safety vests, work gloves and even litter reachers) and water for these cleanups. This year, we also provide official Keep Liberty Beautiful T-shirts for all registered volunteers.

Also, don’t forget to save the date for the annual Keep Liberty Beautiful Earth Day Celebration on April 22 at Bryant Commons, 438 W. Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville, from 3:30– 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact KLB at (912) 880-4888 or email

We still need booth hosts, and you can scan the QR code to see the booth activities still available.

We can all find a way to make our community a healthier, safer and brighter place to live.

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