Stormwater on the mind
Here in the LPOW office, our staff has been ankle deep in the swirls of logistics and preparations for our new Stormwater Monitoring Program. Volunteers have signed on, trainings have been scheduled and we’re headed out for our final scouting missions at the program’s stormwater sampling sites.
We’re half-way to our $20,00 fundraising goal for this brand-new citizen science effort, and we’re pushing hard through the final two weeks to raise $10,000 more dollars so we can get this awesome initiative running with full steam. We’ve got one more fundraiser scheduled on March 2nd, and everyone at LPOW has been busy asking friends and neighbors to get involved.
Needless to say, stormwater has been on our minds…a lot.
We can’t help being curious
As water quality advocates and scientists, the word “stormwater” calls up certain images and reactions tied to the work we do to keep local waterways healthy and clean. We think of gasoline holograms in parking lot puddles. Of underground stormwater pipes and culverts. Of future municipal discharge permits and water quality standards. We think of water samples and testing. Yes, we even think of data…and all the unknowns in this new endeavor.
There are so many questions to answer about stormwater! Here we are, Shannon and I, our brains contemplating charts, graphs and decimal points…thinking of all the clues these things might hold to help us answer those questions.
But I bet that’s not what you’re thinking of.
My unique view of this issue led me to wonder what the idea and reality of stormwater means to everyone else out there in our communities. When you hear the word “stormwater” what do you think of? How about the word “runoff”? Or even “pollution”?
We’re in this issue deep. We know it’s important to advocate for our lake and river; making sure our leaders have the best possible information they can have when they’re making important decisions. But sometimes we get bogged down in the world of data and permits, and we need to step back and ask “what does this issue mean to YOU?”
What does stormwater mean to you?
Last week I posed this very question to several LPOW donors who have jumped on board to help us kick off of our new Stormwater Monitoring Program in March.
Two long-time volunteers felt this:
“We support the Storm Water Monitoring Program because of what we saw growing up and living back East; the complacency. We saw how the assumption “it will be diluted out” can have far reaching and even catastrophic consequences. Heavy metals and toxins, high nitrogen sources like fertilizer runoff and unmaintained septic systems. Plus other non-point source pollution. All this can enter our lake, contaminate and degrade water quality and work its way up the food chain. We live in a relatively pristine environment here in North Idaho - if we are not watchful, we could wake up one day with a serious problem.” – Ron Mamajek and Denise Zembryki
Another new donor shared his curiosities:
“I’ve always wondered and worried about what sort of stuff comes off of all this pavement, and what goes into the water. I suspect that whatever it is, it’s not getting treated.” – Hank Graves
It was interesting to find out that these folks, as well as others I asked, pondered the impact of stormwater runoff on water quality just like LPOW and our staff. There’s curiosity in the community, and people are quick to connect the dots, or pipes in this instance, between runoff and drinking water. Or runoff and swimming areas. Or runoff and ecosystems.
People I spoke with had varied understandings of how stormwater moves through our communities and where it ends up, but across the board, they all understood that runoff carries “stuff” of all sorts with it. That includes potentially harmful stuff that might impact the waters we use for drinking and recreation.
Every person I talked with cared. They cared about what was getting flushed into local waterways by stormwater runoff.
We know you care, now let’s make this happen!
The Stormwater Monitoring Program is going to cost $20,000 in 2016. Almost 100% of that cost is for the laboratory tests that will tell us what potentially harmful stuff is in our stormwater, and maybe even where it’s coming from.
With the help of some amazing donors, we reached the $10,000 half-way point of our fundraising drive last week. Now we need our communities to get on board and fund the remaining half of the $20,000 goal.
We know you care! Now we need YOU to step up and help LPOW face stormwater questions head on! If you can, please donate today so our volunteers can get out to collect water samples. Just like our popular Water Quality Monitoring Program, this new program will produce solid data that answers important questions about how stormwater runoff affects us and our water.
These answers are for YOU, your families, our communities and local municipalities. When we know what we’re dealing with, we can make good decisions.
Please visit the Stormwater Monitoring Program page online to donate today!