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Bosworth & Town Board Members Launch ‘Only Rain in the Drain’ Campaign to Keep Stormwater Free of Pollutants

 June 14, 2017
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Bosworth & Town Board Members Launch ‘Only Rain in the Drain’ Campaign to Keep Stormwater Free of Pollutants

Educational tools include sidewalk artwork that is ‘rain activated’ & PSA

North Hempstead, NY – The next time it rains outside North Hempstead Town Hall, look down at the pavement where a message will appear proclaiming “Only Rain in the Drain.” The rain-activated sidewalk art is a part of an educational campaign launched by Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Town Council Members Viviana Russell, Peter Zukerman, Angelo Ferrara, Anna Kaplan, Lee Seeman and Dina DeGiorgio; and Town Clerk Wayne Wink and Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman, to help people connect that what goes into the storm drains also goes into our waterways. Polluted storm water often affects sources of drinking water, which in turn, can affect human health, and also travels to our bays and harbors, where it can harm water quality and wildlife, making it unsafe to swim.

“It’s so important that we keep pollution out of our storm drains because water from our streets and our neighborhoods runs directly into our bays and harbors,” said Supervisor Bosworth. “Many people think that stormwater is treated before it enters our local waterways, but that is not true. We hope that this educational campaign, done in a whimsical way with sidewalk art, will help people make the connection between what goes into the storm drain and what flows into our waterways.”

The Town has also produced a public service announcement featuring a fictional Storm Water Police Officer who educates people when they attempt to pour pollutants down the storm drain.

The Town of North Hempstead has more than 605,000 linear feet of storm water drainage systems feeding into Hempstead Harbor, Manhasset and Little Neck bays and 49 recharge basins. The sidewalk messaging was used near a dozen drains in various locations throughout town. The rain art can be seen at North Hempstead Beach Park, Clark Botanic Garden, Tully Park, Town Dock and outside Town Hall.

“It almost makes you look forward to the next rainy day,” said the Supervisor.

Some of the main sources of pollution in stormwater include: litter-especially plastics; soil eroding from construction or unvegetated areas; dog waste; over or improper fertilization of lawns; household chemicals; leaky motor vehicles; cleaning activities (such as car washing) on paved surfaces; illegal connections to storm drain systems; backyard pools being drained before allowed to dechlorinate; and the use of pesticides.

“One of the most important problems our bays and harbors have is bacteria, in part from dog waste- it prevents us from shellfishing and causes beach closures”, said Erin Reilley, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Town. “Dog waste should never, ever be left in a curb or thrown down a storm drain. Always pick it up, and dispose of it properly by flushing it or wrapping it and placing it in the garbage.”

“Sometimes you need a creative hook to draw attention and action to a problem,” said Mindy Germain, Executive Director of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington and Commissioner of the Port Washington Water District. “This is just what we need to start a conversation in our community. We look forward to getting our student environmentalists out to see this rain activated art.”

“While the message on the sidewalk may magically appear, anything that goes down into the storm drains does not magically disappear. It ultimately ends up in our bays and harbors and can cause problems. We all have a responsibility to make sure that it is only rain in the drain,” said Eric Swenson, Executive Director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.

Sarah Deonarine of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee said, “Polluted stormwater continues to be a problem for our estuaries and drinking water. The Committee has helped the Town and local villages by supplying metal ‘Don’t Dump, Drains to Bay’ markers for storm drains and is very excited to see the Town take such a creative approach in furthering our shared goal of clean water.”

Residents are also urged to call the Town’s 311 Call System to report any pollution that they observe entering the roadways and the storm drains. Pollution that enters the roadways is carried to the drains, and it discharges directly to Hempstead Harbor, Manhasset Bay and Little Neck Bay. Illegal discharges would include oils and auto fluids, failing septic systems, fluids seeping from dumpsters and garbage trucks, large deposits of sediment or construction dust, wash water from commercial car washes, or food grease from restaurants.

For more information about preventing storm water pollution, or to report illicit discharge into storm water drains, call 311.


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