Dear Sustainability Sam,
Why is it so important to clear the storm drains in the streets?
Thank you for asking this important question. You may have seen Minneapolis neighbors out chipping away at ice-covered storm drains and clearing away all that winter gunk from the drains to allow the streets to drain as the snow has been melting. These are our storm drain heroes!
In addition to keeping storm drains clear of ice, it is important to keep them clear of organic matter–like fallen leaves and grass clippings–and contaminants–such as pet waste, road salt and litter. The storm drains in Tangletown drain into Diamond Lake, Minnehaha Creek, and the Mississippi River (See a map of Tangletown storm drains here). When washed down our storm drains, contaminants pollute the water and the extra organic matter feeds algae and weeds making the water green and soup-like. This blocks sunlight from getting through the water to bottom plants. Without sunlight, these plants are unable to grow and fish and wildlife lose habitat.
Here are ways we can work together to keep our storm drains clear and to protect our waterways:
- Clean up yard waste and do not rake leaves and grass clippings into the street
- Don’t oversalt–only use salt according to the manufacturer’s directions (1 tsp of road salt pollutes 5-gallons of water)
- Sweep up extra salt and grit once your sidewalk is clear of ice
- Clean up pet waste
- Pick up litter even if it is not yours
- Adopt a storm drain! Storm drain adoptees keep an eye on nearby storm drains to make sure they’re clear from debris especially before and after storms.