By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Don't 'feed' the storm drains
Keep Liberty Beautiful
Placeholder Image
Our Rivers Alive cleanups in Liberty County officially began Saturday with a Beach Sweep on St. Catherines Island. It was the first of at least 14 locations that volunteers will be cleaning around our community this month.
We will target places in Walthourville, Allenhurst, Flemington, Hinesville, Riceboro Creek on Highway 17, the South Newport River boat ramp, Charlie Butler Road at the Cay Creek Center, the Jones Creek bridge and park and Islands Highway. We also have community projects planned at Lake Arrow and the Trade Hill Triangle. Area resident will be working with school clubs, like the MMS Builders Club and Science Club, to clean streams near the schools.
If you, your neighborhood or group you are involved with would like to clean a specific location, we urge you to sign up. We already have more than 250 volunteers, but with so many locations, we still need you. For more information or to sign up, call the Keep Liberty County Beautiful office this week.
Cleaning waterways — big and small — is important, but we also need to stop the litter and debris at the source. One way to do that is to stop “feeding” the storm drains. They aren’t pets, you know. Every time we leave litter on the sidewalks or roads, we are leaving “snacks” for those darned drains. When it rains, the water washes over curbs, sidewalks and ditches, carrying trash that has been discarded there.
Many familiar products become “food” for storm drains when they are tossed out. Fast food wrappers, plastic bags and cigarette butts are only part of the problem. Residual pesticides and fertilizers from our yards, improperly disposed of paints and solvents from our homes, and automotive products — like gasoline, motor oil and antifreeze — can all be washed down storm drains and will eventually end up in our local streams and creeks. Even natural materials like soil, grass clippings, fallen leaves and pet waste can pose significant problems if they’re washed into storm drains.
All of these items can end up in storm drains in our cities and towns. Although we are not a big metropolitan area, we still have a lot of impervious surfaces, like paved streets, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways. Rain washes over these surfaces and carries residue out to the waterways. I know many people actually even purposefully dump items into storm drains, thinking they’re linked to water treatment facilities. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
This type of pollution, called nonpoint source pollution, can originate from many different sources. These may seem like small items, so you might think, “What is the big deal?” Well, let me tell you, nonpoint source pollution poses the biggest threat to the quality of our water in America.
• Toxic chemicals like automotive fluids and some household and yard products can be quite harmful to humans, plants and animals. We don’t need this stuff in our waters. Just one quart of motor oil that has been improperly disposed of can ruin the quality of 250,000 gallons of water — enough to meet the needs of a family of four for a year.
• An abundance of items, like fertilizers and pet waste, can cause algae to grow in our waters. Algae can deplete the oxygen levels and lead to fish kills. Animal waste can introduce harmful bacteria and other pathogens into our water supply.
• Sediment from soil erosion and construction can reduce the clarity of the water and block sunlight needed by aquatic plants and fish.
• Litter and debris, particularly plastic items, can be mistaken by fish and birds as food and will hurt them.
So, you can see why we need to make sure we keep our roadways, sidewalks and parking lots as litter-free as possible. At home, we need to make sure we use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Maintain and dispose of these items and other household products appropriately.
Here are some quick home tips we can all use:
• Do not over-fertilize. Sweep — do not wash — fertilizer and soil off driveways and walkways.
• Use native plants and grasses that require less water and less fertilizer.
• Use nontoxic pest controls when possible.
• Recycle auto fluids, filter and batteries.
• Keep your vehicles maintained to minimize auto fluid runoff on our roadways.
• Pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly.
• Use cleaning products that are phosphate-free, biodegradable or nontoxic when washing your car, house or outdoor furniture. Avoid products with chlorine, ammonia, diethylene glycol, hydrochloric acid, oxalic acid and petroleum solvents.
• Wash your car on the lawn and not on your paved driveway.
• Recycle leftover paint or dispose of it properly by letting it dry out completely after mixing in sand or cat litter.
KLCB announcements that you can use to help save the environment:
• Thursday, Oct. 22: Progress through People Luncheon. The program will address the impact of people on coastal waters. Call 368-4445 for reservations.
• Oct. 24: The annual Rivers Alive Cleanups in Liberty County. For information or to volunteer, call the KLCB office.
• Saturday, Oct. 31. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Recycled munchkin scarecrows contest.
• Saturday, Nov. 7, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.: Recycle it! Fair We will accept electronics, cell phones, ink cartridges, household paint, fluorescent bulbs, used motor oil and more at the old hospital site in Hinesville.
• Keep your “butts” off the streets and sidewalks! Cigarette litter needs to be disposed of properly. For a free pocket ashtray, call 368-4888.

For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact Swida at 368-4888 or
Sign up for our e-newsletters