When you think of what feeds your local waterway, you probably imagine smaller rivers flowing into each other upstream. What you may not think of is the overlooked storm drain on the curbside. Anacostia Watershed Society is trying to change that with their storm drain mural project, which was funded by DOEE's 2017 Community Stormwater Solutions Grant. The murals highlight the direct connection between what goes down the storm drain and what ends up in our environment.
It’s not just rain that flows into storm drains. Stormwater can pick up fertilizer, pet waste, chemical contaminants, dirt and litter. Since stormwater is not treated, the mix flows directly into the nearest body of water. The pollution from stormwater can lead to algal blooms and cloudy or contaminated water, both of which harm plants, fish and wildlife.
Polluted stormwater is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. By drawing attention to storm drains through works of art, Anacostia Watershed Society hopes to make residents think twice about the impact they have on the health of their environment.
There are many actions residents can take to lessen stormwater runoff. Using rain barrels or rain gardens can help stormwater to infiltrate and naturally filter, rather than running into storm drains. Homeowners can choose to install green infrastructure like permeable pavement to lessen runoff from their driveway or sidewalk. Making sure to properly dispose of pet waste, trash and yard debris can help to ensure that they don’t end up in the Bay.