Monday, June 6, 2011

Bellingham's youngest stormwater inspector

Let me introduce my neighbor, Erin. She's almost finished with first grade. I first met Erin about two weeks after I noticed a sign on her parent's door that said "it's a girl!" Erin is a great neighbor - she helps me pick my strawberries and raspberries, and we like to stand in the street and daydream about what the neighborhood would look like if we could remove the pavement, expand our gardens, and plant trees.

A couple of days ago, I asked Erin if she knew what a storm drain was. She didn't, so I showed her the storm drain next to her house, and told her that any water, litter, soap suds, cigarette butts, or oil that flowed into the drain ended up in Squalicum Creek, which is a few blocks away. This news left her speechless. I told her that it's really important that oily and soapy water not go down the storm drain, because these can kill the fish in our creek. At this news, she looked like she might cry.

The next time I saw her, I asked her if she'd keep an eye on her storm drain, and come tell me if she saw any soapy or oily water draining towards the drain, because it would help the fish. She got excited about this, and started doing a little dance on the sidewalk.

Today we got out the broom, and swept all the dirt, grass clippings, and litter away from the drain, so Erin could look inside. Then we went and looked at a couple of other neighborhood drains, and peered inside. Then a neighbor started mowing his lawn, leaving lots of grass clippings on the street. She was concerned that the clippings would get into her storm drain if it rained, and she was ready to go talk to him about it.

We decided to wait and see if he picked them up, and plan to go check it again tomorrow morning. If the clippings are still there tomorrow, we'll pick them up, or ask him to do it, because it would help the fish.

Thanks Erin, for keeping an eye on our water. Thanks for reading.

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