AUBURN — The Androscoggin Valley Stormwater Working Group (Lewiston, Auburn, Sabattus and Lisbon), in association with Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, are working together with local volunteers for cleaner and safer waters.

Volunteers will gather at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 9, at Festival Plaza in Auburn and will also be meeting in Lisbon and Sabattus for a brief clean water and municipal stormwater drainage system discussion. The volunteers will then split up to conduct street stenciling in multiple neighborhoods in these respective municipalities.

The stencils will mark the street near municipal drainage inlets, also known as catchbasins. Stormwater is precipitation that doesn’t soak into the ground; rain that flows from rooftops to lawns, across driveways and then into sidewalks and roads is collected by these storm drains and discharged, untreated, into local bodies of water. Along its way, stormwater has collected pesticides and fertilizers, bacteria from pet waste, oil and petroleum, sediment, trash and cigarette butts.

This stenciling event is in an effort to help educate the public of this process and to remind them not to dump down the drain. Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) estimates that 40 to 70 percent of rain and snow that hits the ground leaves the average residential lot as stormwater runoff.

Additionally, the illegal dumping of waste or trash into the drainage system can create more pollution and clog drainage systems creating backups, nuisance flooding and requires expensive cleaning operations. Public engagement in pollution prevention, such as environmentally-sensitive lawn care, can greatly assist municipalities in these costly clean-ups which fall on taxpayers.

Residents can make a difference by following these five steps on their properties:

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Build healthy soil: By using organic material and mulches, soil will increase its water retention and will minimize stormwater pollutants.

Mow better: Taller grass helps maintain healthy soil, which absorbs more water, resulting in less polluted runoff from lawns. Leave lawn clippings for natural fertilizer.

Practice smart watering: Plan your plant/lawn watering around rain events and use automated systems efficiently to reduce the amount of property runoff. Give your plants just what they need but not too much.

Think twice before using fertilizers and pesticides: Use phosphorus-free or slow-release fertilizers. Phosphorus and pesticides can cumulatively contaminate water bodies when they drain into them.

Practice yardscaping: Use native plants and group plants together that need similar amounts of water.

To find out ways to help prevent pollution, check out www.yardscaping.org.

A child stencils a storm drains in an effort to promote clean water.


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