On June 25, 2017, about 50 volunteers of the International WeLoveU Foundation joined forces in Hempstead, Long Island to raise public awareness about a pressing issue: waste entering the local storm drains. Specifically, they met in the village of Elmont—an unincorporated community in Hempstead.
Long Island has two underground systems: a sanitary sewer system and a storm drain tunnel; each serving a different purpose. The sanitary sewer system protects water quality and public health. A series of pipes and pumps transport sewage from homes, businesses and industries to wastewater treatment plants to clean and return it to the environment.
On the other hand, storm drains collect rain and melting snow and divert to local streams untreated. For this reason, only rain should go down the storm drain. Unfortunately, contaminants like lawn chemicals, pet waste, paint, and soaps used for washing cars enter storm drains. Each of these can have harmful effects on wildlife, forestry, and even the water we drink—depending if our water comes from lakes or groundwater aquifier.
To help resolve this, WeLoveU volunteers planned to mark each storm drain with “No Dumping” medallions. The goal: to educate neighbors about the issue and help prevent contamination from entering storm drains.
The town supplied volunteers with a map of all the storm drains, two types of “No Dumping” medallions and adhesive glue to place them. Additionally, the WeLoveU volunteers created a flyer to give to neighbors to learn more about the cause and effect of dumping into storm drains.
The Big Day
About twenty pairs of volunteers were designated to install the medallions, while the rest handed out flyers to local residents. Overall, they successfully marked more than 200 storm drains. “No Dumping” medallions help prevent intentional contamination of local water supply.
During the event, many neighbors expressed their thanks to the WeLoveU Foundation’s efforts to help the community. Likewise, the volunteers conveyed their happiness to take part in this project to help the community.