Environmental officials work to raise stormwater awareness in Butte

Environmental officials work to raise stormwater awareness in Butte

Source: NBC Montana
Click here to read the article: http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/ktvm/environmental-officials-work-to-raise-stormwater-awareness-in-butte/635743008

Justin Ayer

BUTTE, Mont. – Environmental officials in Butte are working to increase community stormwater awareness for the month of October.

Officials say it is a much bigger issue for Butte since the county’s stormwater is untreated, eventually making its way into the city’s creeks.

Maren Tanberg is studying geological engineering at Montana Tech, and she knows the importance of keeping storm drains clean.

“Always keep your drains cleaned out. Not to mention pollution issues — you don’t want that getting into creeks that we’ve worked very hard to keep clean over the years,” said Tanberg.

Tanberg tells NBC Montana pollution isn’t the only problem.

“When you start backing up drains, water will pool,” she said. “Freeze and thaw periods will add more damage to the roads, which means more repairs over time.”

Not everyone realizes its importance, according to Kayla Lappin of the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program.

Lappin said Blacktail and Silver Bow Creek are two creeks in Butte that are connected to the city’s storm drains.

While Butte is no stranger to contaminants in creeks from mine waste, now there seems to be more of a problem with trash and chemicals. Lappin said things like disposing cigarette butts down the sewer drain are a major source of what kills fish and plants in the creeks.

She also tells NBC Montana Butte’s geographical location is unique.

“We live in a mountainous area, so a lot of our runoff comes down directly. It’s not just this flat area where it’s going to go into a flood plain,” Lappin said.

Lappin’s program has teamed up with Butte-Silver Bow by placing public art on traffic signal boxes next to storm drains around Butte.

The artwork is a reminder to everyone to keep the storm drains clean.

Lappin’s goal would be to have Butte residents notice the connection that trash and storm water don’t mix.

According to Lappin, five easy steps can make a big difference:

Don’t wash your car in the driveway. Take it to a carwash so chemicals don’t end up in storm drains.
Don’t litter. Throw trash and cigarette butts in designated receptacles.
When fertilizing your lawn, buy a fertilizer that is environmentally friendly. If the forecast calls for rain, wait for a clear day to fertilize.
Clean up pet waste.
Rake your yard.