Stenciling campaign warns against polluting water
Lincoln, Neb., and Lancaster County are tackling the problem of non-point source pollution with the help of local citizens and the Storm Water Awareness Program (SWAP). The program is intended to remind citizens of the hazards posed to local waterways by improperly discarded motor oil, oil-based paint, anti-freeze, and misapplied pesticides and herbicides, as well as rainwater runoff, oil from streets and parking lots, construction site sediments, and pet and yard waste.
Using a stencil and paint, approximately 2,000 volunteers have marked 8,000 storm drain inlets with the words “No Dumping, Leads to Stream” over the last four years. The Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Department also uses a more permanent metal stencil to mark concrete. The 2-foot-long metal stencil, which contains a fish shape surrounded by the “no dumping” message, is now the standard for all new drain inlets installed in Lincoln.
The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Marine Conservation originated the stenciling program through its EPA-sponsored “Million Points of Blight” campaign, according to Charlie Barr, a program manager for the center. Stencils are supplied to citizens or community groups, along with preparation details and project information.
In addition to stenciling drain inlets, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department is distributing fish-shaped door hangers with information on how citizens can prevent non-point source pollution. The department also has devised a game to educate children about the problem. As a result of the educational efforts, citizens now are reporting incidents of pollution.
More than 90 organizations in 34 states and in Canada are involved in the Points of Blight campaign, and, to date, more than 330,000 storm drains have been painted. For more information, contact the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, (402) 441-8000; or the Center for Marine Conservation, (202) 429-5609, www.cmc-ocean.org.