Most storm drains in Stillwater, Minnesota empty directly into the river, without treatment. Some people may think these drains are trash receptacles for cigarette butts, used motor oil, leftover paint, pet waste or other pollutants. Storm drain labeling serves as an educational tool to remind people about the connection between storm drains and the St. Croix River.
September 7, 2019's volunteer action was part of the annual River Rally, sponsored by Community Thread. It was led by Angie Hong, Washington County Conservation District educator, who heroically accompanied the crews on a scooter due to a foot injury.
Armed with spray paint, stencils, and door hangers, the volunteers fanned out across an area west of Pioneer Park to clean out drains of dirt and plants, to label each storm drain, and to hang “Adopt a Drain” signs on door knobs nearest the drains. Neighbors came out to give the thumbs up to the volunteers and cheer them on. About 30 drains were stenciled in three hours by the crews.
Among the volunteers was downtown resident and storm drain protection champion Cameron Murray, some Stillwater Area high school students, some Xcel energy employees and their family members, and volunteers from Sustainable Stillwater MN.
“In all, we all had a great workout, gained experience, and made new friends,” says Louise Watson, co-founder of Sustainable Stillwater MN. She and Cameron are part of Sustainable Stillwater MN's Natural Resources team. They plan to keep in touch with the volunteers to help start a storm drain adoption program in the city’s neighborhoods over the next year.