Only rain down the drain!

Westerly third-graders Iain Ray, Annie Davenport, Mateo Bush and Macie Kantra spent a recent afternoon stenciling “Dump No Waste: Drains to Lake” near storm drains around Porter Creek.

Bay residents participate in watershed health project

Storm drains are located along each street and in many driveways and parking lots. Any water or material entering a storm drain ends up flowing directly into local streams and then Lake Erie. This is in contrast to your sanitary system which carries sewage and used water from your home or office building to a water treatment plant.

In April 2011, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project “A Holistic Watershed Approach to Health at Huntington Beach” began. The project runs for three years and is a collaborative effort which includes the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, University of Toledo, Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, and the cities of Bay Village and Westlake. The project is focused on improving recreational water quality at Huntington Beach by identifying potential pollution sources within the Porter Creek watershed.  

According to Amy Roskilly, Conservation Education Specialist with the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health has been sampling outfalls along Porter Creek to be tested by Dr. Von Sigler and the staff at the University of Toledo. 

“Upon completion of the water analysis, we will understand how near-shore water quality is affected by the watershed as a whole and how to provide residents with simple solutions to prevent contamination of the watershed and Lake Erie. Dr. Sigler will explain the testing and analysis of storm water and the genetic information gleaned by this study to identify specific E. coli species at a wrap up seminar which is free and open to the public on Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m., at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.”

To increase residents’ awareness, the project team stenciled some of the storm drains that are located near the higher concentration areas with the message “Dump No Waste – Drains to Lake.” On Tuesday, Oct. 8, a group of Bay Village residents gathered to participate in the stenciling project. Participants included the sixth-grade Aqua Girls from Bay Middle School and members of Martha Fisher’s Westerly School third-grade class from Bay Village. The students were paired with adult volunteers. In total, 112 storm drains were stenciled in Bay Village.

Per Roskilly, “Seventy percent of the pollution in our waterways comes from local residents and often contains chemicals which are harmful to both humans and wildlife. The local beaches are closed if unsafe levels of bacteria are detected and this is likely to occur as a result of a hard rain fall. We have a lot of hard, impervious surface and when rain falls on it, it rushes into our storm drain system taking with it all the pollutants we put on the ground like fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, oil and gas.”

So, what can you do?

According to Roskilly, homeowners can do a lot to help reduce storm water run-off pollution by addressing two key areas.

First, design your yard to stop the water from flowing into the storm drains so quickly.  Some ways to do that include:

  1. Reduce the size of your lawn by creating flower beds and planting native plants.  
  2. Add native trees and bushes to your property wherever possible.  
  3. Use a rain barrel to capture rain water off of your roof.
  4. Plant a rain garden.

Second, reduce the amount of pollutants that can flow into the storm drains. This includes:

  1. Always clean up pet waste.
  2. Reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  3. Wash your car on your lawn or at a commercial car wash, not on your driveway.
  4. Pick up any litter – many times it washes into the storm drains during a heavy rain.
  5. Never dump anything directly down a storm drain.

For more information, contact the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, 216-201-2000,; or Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, 216-524-6580,

Learn the results of the Porter Creek watershed study at a free seminar on Thursday, Nov. 14, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, 28728 Wolf Road, Bay Village.

Brenda OReilly

Co-Chair of the Bay Village Green Team

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Volume 5, Issue 21, Posted 10:12 AM, 10.15.2013