This past Saturday, April 26th, the HII crew, along with 17 volunteers, hit the busy streets of Williamsburg around East River State Park to spread awareness of water pollution. As a group we installed a total of 60 storm drain plaques reading “No dumping, leads to waterways.” These plaques are intended to stand as a reminder to pedestrians and residents that dumping waste down storm drains directly pollutes our waterway.
In New York City we dump 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted storm water into our Harbor every year! A lot of the pollution is due to old urban planning problems with infrastructure in NYC, leading to what we call Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO). CSO events happen when rainfall and stormwater overload the sewage treatment plants. This means that a combination of rainwater and raw sewage drain directly into New York’s main bodies of water, such at the Hudson River and the East River. Once water enters the storm drains on street corners, it will not necessarily be treated before entering the waterway. Long story short: we have to be extra careful and responsible for what we put down the drain.
In addition to installing the storm drain plaques, we worked with our volunteers to care for trees in the neighborhood. In total we cared for 48 trees by cleaning up trash and waste, aerating the soil, and adding compost and mulch to the tree beds. We were all proud of the work we accomplished together, and it was especially rewarding when people passing by thanked us or stopped by to ask questions about our work.
We all look forward to continuing both the storm drain and tree care projects! A special thanks to all of our volunteers that came out for the beautiful day!
Many thanks to HEP/NEIWPCC for supporting this program.
By Anna Marr, Environmental Education Intern, Human Impacts Institute 2014