WEF Eco Members Mark Drains to Aid Local Stormwater Outreach Efforts

November 20, 2019

WEF Resources & Efforts

Members of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) WEF Eco program participated in the City of Alexandria’s storm-drain marking program on Nov. 4. Participants marked 52 drains near WEF headquarters with stickers that warn against illicit dumping.

Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) staff members (from left) Katherine Saltzmann, Brad Lovett, Ronnetta Zack-Williams, and Maggie Siddle joined the City of Alexandria in marking 52 storm drains around WEF headquarters, indicating to residents that anything that goes down the drain empties directly into local waterways. Will Fowler/WEF

The program began through a citywide ordinance called the “Only Rain Down The Drain Campaign,” according to Gavin Pellitteri, water quality compliance specialist for the City of Alexandria.

“It was an effort to reduce pollutants going into stormwater inlets,” Pellitteri said. “The Clean Virginia Water Partners surveyed Northern Virginia households and found that most residents didn’t realize that their stormwater drains actually go into the nearest watershed, and they don’t go to the sanitary authority.”

Bri Nakamura and Lauren Henretty, members of the WEF Eco program, prepare to mark a storm drain. The WEF Eco program tasks WEF staff members with improving the sustainability of the local environment. Will Fowler/WEF

“I don’t think it’s out of mal-intent,” he said. “They might have leftover solvents or paints, or any type of liquid waste. It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind conclusion to let it float down the storm drain.”

That’s why the campaign involves not only marking storm drains, but also educating the public, said Pellitteri.

“Of course [the campaign has] been a benefit to us because it helps us mark inlets, keep an inventory of what inlets need to be marked, and keep track of those that have. But it acts as a form of public outreach and communication, too.”

Bri Nakamura and Morgan Brown were part of a team of WEF staff members who affixed stickers to storm drains that warn against illegal dumping on Nov. 4. Will Fowler/WEF

WEF Eco – which organizes events for WEF staff related to enhancing local environmental sustainability – first came into contact with the city’s storm-drain marking program through WEF’s Pallavi Raviprakash.

“Over the summer, I did this with my daughters around my house,” Raviprakash said. “And since WEF Eco was looking for different volunteering and community service opportunities, I suggested this.”

“This seemed like an easy enough thing to accomplish during lunch hour without a whole lot of preparation,” she said. “I am so glad that this worked out.”

Will Fowler, WEF Highlights

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