Drain markings aim to protect Puget Sound from pollution

Do it yourself by requesting a kit and hitting the streets this summer
By Marie Haaland | Beacon reporter | Aug 02, 2017
Photo by: Marie Haaland A medallion that reads “No Dumping; Drains to Sound” sits next to a storm drain.

It’s easy to forget that what we put down the drain ends up in our prized Puget Sound.

“What we do on land affects Puget Sound and the wildlife,” said Yolimar Rivera Vazquez, the Natural Resources and Latino Engagement Projects Coordinator for WSU Snohomish County Extension.

“People in Mukilteo care about the waterfront, but they don’t realize things that go into the water don’t get treated.”

That disconnect is why WSU Beach Watchers and the city of Mukilteo have joined forces to keep pollution out of the sound by placing “No Dumping; Drains to Sound” medallions next to storm drains throughout Mukilteo.

A handful of volunteers gathered Saturday, July 29, to do just that. Volunteers met at Mukilteo City Hall where they learned the procedure for marking a drain and talked about how to stay safe while working on the side of the road. The volunteers then split into groups and went out to mark storm drains.

“I think it’s a great outreach program,” said Ani Gothard-Williams, who has been volunteering for a variety of projects with Beach Watchers since 2015.

“It’s visible; I hope it makes people more aware.”

The program, called “Only Rain Goes Down the Drain,” aims to increase awareness that storm drains are directly connected to the Puget Sound with no treatment for the water. The medallions serve as reminders that only water should be entering storm drains.

Last year, the Beach Watchers teamed up with the city to start the project, placing 258 medallions in areas around the city. This year, the goal is to place at least 200 more. Some 67 were placed Saturday.

With over 4,500 storm drains in the city, the project is not going to be finished this year, but the Beach Watchers hopes to continue it for as long as possible.

Still, more hands are needed on deck to reach the Beach Watchers’ goal, Rivera Vazquez said.

“We’ve put together these kits where you have everything you need: you have safety materials, medallions, you have the glue and we give you the maps,” she said.

The program can only be worked on during the summer because medallions have to be placed when the ground is completely dry, in order to allow the glue to dry properly.

The group encourages people to reserve kits, available through Oct. 10, and start marking drains. Volunteers then check-off the drains they have marked. This can be done on either a map or virtually through an app.

To check out a kit, send an email to OnlyRains.InDrains@wsu.edu.

Rivera Vazquez said, “Our actions, what we do on the land, is affecting the sound, which is really our end message.”

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