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Markers Placed On City’s Storm Drains to Protect Water

The City of St. Augustine placed storm drain markers (see picture) on most of the city’s storm drains.

The four-inch aluminum markers are to remind people that only rain should go down the drains with the warning “No Dumping/Drains to Waterways” etched on the front.

The city is taking considerable steps to improve the quality of our surface waters—our rivers, bays and creeks—by reducing the amount of pollution carried to our waterways due to stormwater runoff.

Stormwater is water that originates from rain and enters the city’s stormwater system. Precipitation that is not absorbed into the ground due to an impervious surface, like concrete or asphalt, is considered stormwater runoff.

The city’s stormwater system is designed to collect stormwater runoff in catch basins and storm drains and channel that water to our waterways using a network of underground pipes that make up our stormwater system.

A variety of toxic pollutants are washed from the streets and parking lots into storm drains, creeks, rivers and ultimately to the ocean. These pollutants include leaking oil, antifreeze and gasoline from motor vehicles; copper dust, which is released from motor vehicle brake pad linings; rubber tire dust; soaps and chemicals used to wash vehicles; waste motor oil from vehicles, lawn mowers, and small equipment; and fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

This type of pollution is called non-point source pollution due to the fact that it comes from many unidentifiable sources making it hard to regulate and prevent. Stormwater pollution has a significant effect on surface waters such as Matanzas Bay, the San Sebastian River, Oyster Creek and Maria Sanchez Lake.  It’s a major problem in cities all over the country but it’s especially important here in St. Augustine since we’re surrounded by so much water.

Stormwater drain to Matanzas Bay should carry only rain water runoff in order to keep our waterways clean and healthy.

The best way to reduce stormwater pollution is to stop it at its source. Keep your storm drains clean and free of debris. Pollutants flushed down storm drains directly affects the quality of our rivers and creeks and could possibly make them unsafe for boating, fishing, swimming and other water related activities.

Here are some tips to help keep our waterways clean:

  • Don’t work on your car in a place where oil and grease could be washed into street gutters. Used motor oil should be contained and taken to a collection center. Most automotive shops provide this service.
  • Grass clippings should be bagged and disposed of with yard waste. Dumping grass clippings down a storm drain can slow storm water flow and clog the drains.
  • Do not wash dirty paint brushes under an outdoor faucet.  The dirty rinse water may  flow into a storm drain and into our rivers. Water-based paints can be washed in the sink and oil based paint should be cleaned with a paint thinner, filtered out, wrapped in newspaper and discarded with the trash.
  • Pet droppings should not be discarded into storm drains or left in the yard. Clean up pet droppings and dispose of them in the garden, trash bins or in the toilet.
  • When washing your vehicle, park on the grass or some other area that can absorb the runoff water. Washing your car on the street sends all the chemicals used to clean your car into a catch basin or storm drain and directly into our water.
  • Use pesticides sparingly and don’t fertilize right before it rains.
  • Keep trash and other debris out of gutters and away from stormwater drains.

For more information on stormwater go to the city Web site and click under Residents and Businesses for Stormwater Pollution Prevention or click here.

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