The Martinsville Uptown Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Martinsville, and the Henry County Rotary Club joined with the Boys and Girls Club of the Blue Ridge and the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) to bring awareness to the need to protect the water of the Smith River in Uptown Martinsville.
The Rotary Club members and teens from the Boys & Girls Club marked 12 drains with the inscription “No Dumping, Drains to River” to inspire people to understand how storm drains work and to discourage littering in the city.
The marked storms drains are designed to increase public awareness of proper storm drain use, how storm drains empty water directly to the river without treatment, and how storm drains affect the health and ecosystem of the Smith River and local streams and waterways. The program was initiated by DRBA and embraced by the local Rotary Clubs. The project is funded by a grant from Rotary International and matching funds from all three local clubs.
“This is the first of three Rotary Club events that will bring awareness and inspire clean water in Martinsville and Henry County,” said Denny Casey, of the Rotary Club of Martinsville. “This event will bring immediate attention to the fact that what we put down storm drains ends up in the Smith River, there are no filters between the drains and the waterways. The next event, which will happen in the Spring, will be winners of the student art contest painting their artwork on select drains in the city. The third event, which will occur in May 2022, will be the installation of permanent medallions in Uptown that reminds people that the storm drains empty in the Smith River.”
Thirteen youth and 10 Rotary Club members participated in the Storm Drain Marking event. DRBA’s Virginia Program Manager, Brian Williams provided information about storm drains to the group, supplies and materials and identified in partnership with Jeff Gauldin, from the City of Martinsville, which storm drains would be marked.
“This project will leave a lasting impression on our teens,” said Joanie Petty, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Blue Ridge. “Working side-by-side with leaders in service like our local Rotary Clubs and Dan River Basin Association staff, shows our teens that people are committed to protecting the environment and that they can be a part of the bigger picture of creating positive change in their hometown. When the teens came back from marking the storm drains, I could see that they all felt a sense of pride in the work they had done, and they learned that anything we put on the ground can easily contaminate our drinking water and rivers after it rains.”
Storms drains work by diverting rainwater and melting snow into nearby bodies of water. Every time it rains, water runs off roofs and into the street, unfortunately bringing oil, litter, debris and toxins with it. This water then flows into storm drains and then through a system of pipes directly into a waterway such as a river or stream. It is important that nothing but water ever enters a storm drain.
“Storm Drain Marking is a tangible way to actively engage and motivate citizens to learn more about the connection between storm water and the quality of our rivers,” said Brian Williams, DRBA’s Virginia Program Manager. “This is an easy and impactful way to improve the health of our waterways.”
Visit www.danriver.org to learn more about storm drain marking and how you can support and protect waterways in your community.