Many people do not realize the implications of their actions when they throw trash or pollution near or down storm drains. The water from storm drains does not go through a treatment center; instead, the water flows directly to local rivers where the trash pollutes the local environment and drinking water sources. The “Paint The Drain” storm drain marking program and the “Storm The Drain” permanent sticker programs work to prevent pollution from entering these freshwater resources by spreading awareness about the dangers of discharging debris in storm drains. To do this, drains are stenciled with labels or marked with a sticker notifying the public that anything and everything that enters these drains will ultimately end up in their very own water source.

As the newly appointed 2018 Pitt County coordinator for the project, my long-range goals are to successfully complete the painting of the 10,000 plus storm drains in the Greenville/Pitt, North Carolina metropolitan area, analyze water quality data to help determine our impact, and develop a leadership succession plan ensuring the future of Paint The Drain. Over 4,000 drains have been painted so far with an expectation to reach my target of 5,000 stenciled drains by the end of the 2020 school year. My team has scheduled 3 major Paint The Drain events this year and is communicating with local schools and adjacent municipalities to adopt the program year-round.

My work with Paint The Drain has become even more meaningful to me with critical water issues arising around the globe. It is my hope that Paint The Drain helps to inspire others to act and think about their environmental impact, reverse alarming trends in water pollution, and ensure that fresh clean water is available for future generations. Paint The Drain has given me a chance to impact the lives of people who will never know me, but will hopefully enjoy clean fresh water for years to come. This service project has done more to help me realize who I am and what I am capable of than anything else, and hopefully, others feel and experience a positive change from my work.

How To Take Action:

You can help educate your community and prevent pollution from entering storm drains in your city!

• Storm drain awareness programs are listed on many city’s websites. If your area does not have a program, start your project by contacting your city’s Public Works – Storm Water Engineer’s office and schedule a meeting.

• To connect with the Pitt-Greenville Paint the Drain program contact:

Emma Dao, the Pitt County Paint the Drain Project Coordinator is a Love A Sea Turtle Student Advisory Board member a Sophomore at DH Conley.