LEWISTON – Gifted and talented math and science students will stencil storm drains today in Lewiston and Auburn with the phrases “Don’t Dump – Drains to River” and “Keep it Clean – Drains to River” in an effort to educate the public and raise awareness regarding storm water and the path it takes to receiving water bodies, such as the Androscoggin River.

The project is part of Lewiston and Auburn’s Phase II Storm Water Management Plan. Storm drains in Lewiston along River and Oxford Street, as well as cross streets from Blake to Jefferson will be stenciled. Storm drains in Auburn on Gamage Avenue and in the Lake Street neighborhood will be stenciled. In the event of rain, stenciling will be canceled.

The Androscoggin Valley Education Collaborative Math/Science program at the Auburn Land Lab hosts gifted and talented students from four area high schools one day a month during the school year. The students participate in service projects that expand their experiences and benefit the surrounding community.

It is a common misconception that storm water, which is rain that does not soak into the ground, is treated at the local wastewater treatment plant, but storm water is not treated. What goes in the drain comes out in the river.

Storm water runoff can consist of oil, gasoline, chemicals and litter, as well as sediment and organic matter, such as leaves and lawn clippings. The overload of pollutants has a negative impact on aquatic life and the overall aesthetic nature and recreational appeal of the water body.

Storm drain stenciling is a nationwide, public awareness initiative arising from the result of new storm water regulations. Recently, 28 communities in Maine have become subject to the Phase II Storm Water Regulatory Program, which regulates storm water discharge from small municipalities.

Part of the regulation requires the use of public education to raise awareness concerning storm water pollution while at the same time promoting ways the public can help reduce it.

Not only is storm drain stenciling helping to fulfill the requirements of the regulation, but it is also providing the opportunity for students to become involved in their community and to demonstrate environmental stewardship.

For additional information, contact Christine Rinehart, Aquarion Engineering Services, at 828-1272, ext. 19, or Cameron Parker at the Auburn Land Lab, 783-4563. Visit www.ThinkBlueMaine.org for more information on storm water and things that can be done to help keep Maine waters clean.

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