I would love a good, old-fashioned rain — or, as we used to call it, gully washer — this week.
I live on a dirt road and am allergic to every kind of pollen imaginable. So I love it when rain washes all the dust and pollen away. However, rain creates a traveling system for many materials that we unfortunately discard on pavements and streets.
Gully washer actually is an accurate name for a good rain because storm waters wash over sidewalks, ditches, roads, etc., and carry debris discarded there. These everyday items and even chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers end up in our storm drains.
In our communities, where there is significant development, including paved streets, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways, storm water washes over these impervious surfaces and delivers whatever is on these surfaces to our drains — which then usually flows into our waterways.
As I have written in previous columns, this type of pollution is called nonpoint source pollution because it can originate from many different sources and poses the biggest threat to our water quality:
• Toxic chemicals, like automotive fluids and some household and yard products, can be harmful to living beings. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a quart of improperly disposed motor oil can damage the quality of 250,000 gallons of water.
• An abundance of items — like fertilizers, pet waste and even decomposing leaves and grass clippings — can cause large amounts of algae to grow in our waters, deplete their oxygen levels and cause fish kills, according to www.ecy.wa.gov. Animal waste also can also put harmful bacteria and other pathogens into our water supply.
• Per partnersforclean
streams.org, sediment, like soil erosion or debris from construction, can reduce water clarity and block sunlight for aquatic plants and fish.
• Litter and debris, particularly plastic items, can be mistaken by animals as food and harm them, according to www.epa.gov.
We actually are the cause of storm-water pollution, and we are the ones who can prevent it. Would you like to learn more about stormwater pollution and those hungry storm drains? Then join us at the ninth annual Earth Day Celebration, a free public-awareness event, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at the YMCA, 201 Mary Lou Drive in Hinesville. There will be about 70 games, crafts, displays and activities that will provide environmental awareness in a fun atmosphere.
It is a great way to learn more about storm-water pollution and other concerns, like litter prevention and water conservation.
If you or your organization or business would like to volunteer with Earth Day, contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 880-4888.
Also, there are citywide cleanups scheduled for Saturday in Flemington and April 25 in Hinesville. These are good ways to keep storm drains from eating more litter and debris this spring.
Plan now to make a difference where you live, work and play. All organizations, churches, businesses and civic clubs are encouraged to register now to participate in these volunteer cleanups.
Call or email us or go to www.keeplibertybeautiful.org for more information.