Tag Archives: clean water

Keeping our storm drains free from pollution

By Marco Conci, Eagle Scout, Troop 36

I recently had the opportunity to work with the Town of Danville’s Clean Water Program Coordinator, Chris McCann and 12 Boy Scouts from Troop 36 to replace curb markers above storm drains.

Dumping anything into storm drains is not just wrong, it’s illegal. Storm water is often considered a nuisance because it mobilizes pollutants such as motor oil and trash. Pollutants such as oil, paint, pesticides, fertilizers, and soaps contaminate storm water and cause harm to our ecosystem. This affects ocean water quality and marine life.

Storm drain marking is an established method to increase community awareness about non-point source pollution. The Town of Danville has an established program to replace the storm drain markers and increase community awareness to educate the public not to dump pollution into our streets and waterways.

Unlike the water that flows down the drains inside your home which goes to sewage treatment facilities, the storm drain system is completely separate; water in the storm drain receive no treatment or filtering process. This means that any pollution that gets washed into the storm drains go directly to our creeks here in Danville and ultimately the Bay.

We can all do our part to keep storm water clean. So what can we do to make it better? There are a lot of things:

Keep trash and chemicals off the streets.  That means picking up litter when you see it, even if it’s not your own, and avoiding the use of harsh chemicals.

Make sure your car is in good working order so that the oil and gas doesn’t drip onto the pavement and eventually into the drain.

Pick up after your dog. You don’t want to swim in its waste the next time you go to the beach!

Be a community advocate.  Report full or clogged storm drains to your department of public works.

Here’s some other simple do’s and don’ts:

Don’t wash your car at home because the soapy suds join a polluted mix of grime, metals, petroleum products and chemicals that flow into the street, then into the drain which flow into our creeks and eventually the bay and ocean. Do take your car to a commercial location that has a drain that flows into a treatment facility where the water is cleaned before it is released.

Don’t water garden and lawns with the sprinklers running too long or spraying too far, the extra water can carry pollutants like fertilizers and animal waste into the drain. Do adjust your sprinklers so they work properly and only water areas that need it.

Don’t hose your concrete paths because the water can pick up other trash that flow into the drain.

Do use a broom (which is also a wise choice during our drought).

Here’s some other good storm water management ideas to consider.

In cities with lots of concrete, 75% of the rainwater runs into the sewer instead of being absorbed by the ground as it would in a natural environment. Counter this by using rain barrels to divert water from storm drains therefore, reducing pollutants.  Or use rain chains to direct water to your garden using water wisely and keeping it out of our storm drains—saving you money and helping with the drought.

Our State and regional water board support projects that include low impact development designs that capture water where it falls. For example, in new developments or in re-landscaping using trees and plants near sidewalks and roads work to soak up water into the ground to feed living things, instead of having the water roll of the pavement into the street and drains.

By keeping water on your property and preventing runoff, you’ll be doing your favorite beach a favor too. The less water that gets into our storm drain system, the cleaner our beaches stay.

As part of my project, we distributed flyers to houses throughout my neighborhood to educate the public on storm drain awareness. On the flyer, I asked Danville residents to pledge not to misuse the storm drain system with pollutant, such as pouring toxic materials in their streets that would flow to the storm drain.  You can show your commitment to our community, environment, wildlife, and bay clean and healthy by signing this online pledge: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/444/692/655

If you sign before September 15th, 2016 you will have a chance to win a Starbucks gift card.

 

drains to creek

For more information check out some of these sources:

http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/stormwater/

http://www.cccleanwater.org/prevent-pollution/safe-disposal-recycling/

http://www.cleanwaterways.org/residents/

Marco Conci, a gold palm Eagle Scout with Troop 36, is a Junior at Monte Vista High School. He is working toward his Hornaday Silver Award, which he will earn after completing four conservation projects.

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Show our local creeks a little love.

Sustainable Danville Area Tip of the Month – August 2013

By Cynthia Ruzzi

It’s hard to believe that the lazy days of summer will soon be filled with school activities.  While my children and I are past the dreaded back-to-school registration days filled with sign-ups, forms and lines, I still look forward to seeing the kids fill Osage Park for gym class, lunch hour and after school activities.  As I walked the pathway in the park recently I realized an eerie quiet without the student body.  In fact, it was quiet enough that as I neared the Northeast side of the park I heard the water from Cow Creek.  The sound made me think about how landlocked we are in our community and the need to show our water sources a ‘little love’.  The condition of our local streams and waterways contribute to the outstanding quality of life enjoyed by our residents.  Unfortunately, hazardous waste is reaching our waterways through storm drains located in our streets and in our yards, polluting the local water environment.  So while conservation in your home, yard and community is important to spare our liquid gold, we also need to protect our creeks from pollution.

First up – Take your car to the car wash!    Commercial car washes use recycled water which help conserve fresh water sources for drinking.  Additionally, carwashes are set up to prevent harmful oils and dirt washed off a dirty car from entering our storm drains and making their way to our creeks where they harm marine habitats, birds and other wildlife that depend on our creek water for survival. So have a latte (hopefully in a reusable cup) and be environmentally friendly while your car is cleaned at the carwash. Or support one of the local charity car wash events that are a popular way to raise money for schools or community groups in our area.

If you’re a group considering holding a car wash to raise money, please contact the Town of Danville Storm Water Coordinator at 314-3342 to borrow a FREE car wash kit.  The car wash kit comes with easy instructions on how to use it to prevent polluting material from entering our storm drains.  Secondly, obtain permission from the owner of the event location to ensure that you can locate the car wash near an approved sanitary sewer drain or vegetated area to discharge your wash water.

There are other ways you can be part of the solution to stop pollution in our creeks and waterways.  Please do your part to protect the environment, by properly disposing of hazardous materials such as batteries, fluorescent tubes, household cleaning items, mercury thermometers, motor oil, automotive products, garden products, paint-related products such as paints, stains, varnishes, thinners, strippers, brush cleaners and other solvents, epoxies, glues, sealants, wood preservatives and aerosol paints.  All these items can be brought to the recycling center operated by Contra Costa Central Sanitary District to protect both our waterways and your home and family from storing harmful chemicals that are flammable and combustible.  For a complete list of items that can be brought to the recycling center, please visit http://www.centralsan.org/index.cfm?navId=158 or call 1-800-646-1431.   The facility is operated by the Contra Costa Central Sanitary District and it is located at 4897 Imhoff Place, near the intersection of Highway 4 and Interstate 680, in Martinez.  Also, local places like Ace Hardware in Alamo, Home Depot in San Ramon will accept fluorescent lighting and Whole Foods and CVS are great locations to drop off spent batteries.

Before hazardous materials accumulate in your garage and then are improperly disposed of – I encourage you purchase products that are less harmful for the environment and your family. The marketplace is filled with products that are as effective as those dependent on harmful chemicals.  Painting a room?  Consider paints with low or no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) to prevent harmful vapors.  Applying pesticide around your home?  Remember that good bugs are harmed along with those you wish to discourage when you use pesticides.  It’s best to identify the pest first using a resource like the University of California’s resource for pest management http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/menu.homegarden.html or snapping a picture and asking for assistance at a local nursery on the proper treatment.  Only purchase what you need and when mixing liquid pesticides, always read the label and use rubber gloves before you measure and do not mix on a hard surface, concrete or near a storm drain.  Apply to the target areas or plants only.  Don’t overuse or over-water after application.    This is one of the most direct ways pesticides enter our waterways. Alternatively, try a natural remedy made with common household ingredients which are safer and are a low-cost alternative to more toxic pesticides. Here’s my favorite general insect spray: Mix 1/2 cup chopped red chili peppers and several cloves of garlic with 2 cups water in a blender. Process briefly, then strain the plant matter from the liquid. Pour the red pepper liquid into a spray bottle. Add 1 tbsp. liquid dish soap to help the spray adhere to the plants. If you are dusting the soil to deter crawling pests, look for red pepper or cayenne pepper in the spice aisle of your grocery store or purchase food grade diatomaceous earth at a nursery or online. 

Want to help protect our creeks?  Contact Mary Grim at Friends of San Ramon Creek at marygrim27@gmail.com.  Visit sustainabledanville.com or follow us on Facebook for more environmental friendly information.