Tag Archives: stormwater

Champions of the Environment: Dent Middle School Mitigates Stormwater Runoff

by
Dr. Rachel Tustin
Dent Middle School

This is the first of series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

Environmental education has been an important part of my life since I was a small child. I grew up in the Midwest, and my grandfather was a chemical engineer at a refinery. When he started out in his career, there weren’t a lot of regulations to protect the environment from what they were doing. He was a pioneer in fighting for protecting the environment in the oil industry. I spent a lot of time with him growing up working on various environmental projects, such as building gardens on vacant lots in our community. He said protecting the earth was a way to show your respect to whichever creator you believe in, and that is something I have carried with me for many years.

The October 2015 flood was the inspiration for our rain garden project. We have an enormous number of storm drains on our campus, that all drain into Carys Lake. At the end of last year, my students had to propose solutions to the issues they saw from our lake studies. Creating a rain garden was one of their ideas to mitigate our campus run off. I think one of the key lessons my students are learning from this project is that protecting our lake environment is an important part of their campus and community legacy. As responsible citizens, it’s not enough to just understand the lake ecosystem. They need to use that information to improve the situation for our community.

I think my favorite part of the project is getting students to apply science in a hands-on way. In designing their rain gardens, it hasn’t just been about research and coming up with a plan. Rather, it has been about applying science and engineering skills to solve a problem they identified in the community. A lot of students are taking huge pride in the fact that their design will be on our campus long after they have graduated and moved on. They are embracing it as their legacy to Dent.

The most challenging part of any project is funding and execution. We have been fortunate that the community embraced our project and we have been extremely well funded. For any teachers who are considering an environment project in their classroom, you always want to identify some funding sources. It can be granted, but it may also be donations or fundraisers. If your students are passionate about the idea, and it is worthwhile to your community, people will help you find the resources to make it happen.

 

Only Rain Should Go Down a Stormdrain

By Carol Roberts, DHEC Watershed Manager

Did you know that stormwater drains flow directly to our rivers, lakes, streams and ocean with little or no treatment? You might assume that any trash, pollutants or debris that washes into a storm drain gets sent to a water treatment plant and cleaned up, but it all goes right into water bodies where people swim, fish and recreate.

That’s why keeping storm drains pollution free is an important part of keeping our communities clean and healthy.

What is stormwater?

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain flows over the ground and flows into storm drains or nearby creeks, rivers and ponds. In natural, grassy areas, rain can usually soak into the ground and eventually back into the water table underground. This provides a natural filtering process. But if rain falls in heavy amounts or over impervious surfaces ( or surfaces water can’t get through, such as driveways, concrete sidewalks and asphalt streets) the rain is not able to  soak into the ground and creates stormwater runoff.

Reducing stormwater pollution

Stormwater picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other materials as it flows into our waterways. Common pollutants include trash, sediment, leaves, grass clippings, fertilizer, pesticides, animal waste (bacteria), residue from chemical spills or container overflows, vehicle drips and leaks, and detergents.

ARC-Stormwater-v1.png

Credit: Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, Atlanta, Georgia

Everyone can help prevent stormwater pollution. Here are some easy tips you can follow:

Pet Care

Pet waste contains harmful bacteria that can wash into recreational waters. Always pick up after your pet and dispose of pet waste in a trash can.

Never throw dog or cat feces or cat litter down a storm drain and never flush cat litter.

Litter Disposal

Litter that is thrown on the ground or out of a car window ends up in our water. Make sure to always dispose of trash in a trashcan or recycle it.

Auto Care

Never dump automotive fluids down a storm drain – it is the same as dumping them directly into your favorite swimming or fishing spot.

Repair leaks that can leave chemicals on driveways and streets, and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations.

Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on your lawn/yard so the water infiltrates into the ground.

Lawn / Property Care

Sweep yard debris and trash out of the street so it doesn’t get washed into storm drains.

Reduce impermeable surfaces by using pavers or gravel on sidewalks and driveways that rain water can soak through into the ground.

Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly so they don’t wash into local streams – potentially harming wildlife and people. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.

For more information on stormwater, visit www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Water/Stormwater/