Many Hands, Fun Work on Storm Drain Stencils

Silent sentinels—in the form of stenciled signs—now stand along Great Star Drive, reminding passersby that our storm drains lead to the Patuxent River.

Thanks to the efforts of nearly 20 volunteers, the storm drains on River Hill’s major road Great Star Drive—from Guilford Road to Clarksville Pike/Route 108—bear the words “Only Rain Down the Drain” and “Drains to Patuxent River.”

This is the first major project of our village’s Watershed Committee. The signs replace the faded labels that indicated our connection to the Chesapeake Bay. The Watershed Committee decided that a body of water closer to home, the Patuxent River, would be a more powerful reference point. The stenciling had the backing of the River Hill Community Association Board as well as the 2014 class of the Howard County Watershed Stewards Academy, which completes action projects to raise awareness of water quality in local streams. The Howard County Office of Sustainability provided the stencils, and John McCoy, the Columbia Association watershed manager and adviser to River Hill’s Watershed Committee, provided traffic cones. Nathalie Eegholm, a member of the River Hill High School Honor Society, was key in bringing other students to work on the project.

Those volunteering were Shereen Ashai; Mike and Jay Desmarais; Nathalie, Niels and Bente Eegholm; Warren and Jillian Kelley; Shireen Khayat; Katherine Lowe; Tessa Menachery; Ed and Marianne Warner; Ethan Wettstein; and Watershed Committee members Sari Chapman, Bruce Eberle, Elisabeth Hoffman, Lauren Marcus, and Dipper Wettstein.

The signs will be a constant reminder that we can and must improve the water quality in our streams and rivers. Everyone can help in two ways:

First, only rain belongs in our storm drain—not dog poop, lawn chemicals, oil leaking from cars, grass, leaves, salt from driveways and sidewalks, plastic  bottles, soda cans, plastic bags, or other trash.

And second, we must slow the rush of water running off pavement and roofs, giving rain a chance to filter through the soil and replenish groundwater. Some techniques include rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavers, and planting trees and native vegetation.

The Watershed Committee’s website includes many ideas for improving our watershed. Frequent updates are also posted on our Facebook page.

NOTE: The Howard County Watershed Stewards Academy is starting a new course. Free information sessions are scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on  Thursday, August 14 Glenwood library; Thursday, August 21 at Elkridge library; Tuesday, August 26, at East Columbia library; and Wednesday, September 10 at Miller library. Information can be found at howardwsa@gmail.com and www.howardwsa.org. Applications are due September 15.

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