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City and DePauw Environmental Club host storm water education event

Friday, March 6, 2009

The City of Greencastle teamed up with the DePauw Environmental Club Thursday night to present an informational event at city hall to educate the public on the prevention of storm water pollution.

In one of her major roles as city planner, Shannon Norman spends much of her time on Greencastle's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program.

Essentially, MS4 is the city's storm water drainage system. This system is separate from the city's wastewater sewer system, which treats the water before reintroducing it into nature.

In her work on the MS4 program, Norman has had the help of a number of interns over the past two years. Most recently, she has been joined by DePauw sophomore Gary Pett, who helped her put together Thursday's event.

While the MS4 program has put much work into mapping the city's storm drains, both Pett and Norman emphasized that the real goal of the project is to educate individuals about the difference they can make simply by knowing what they can and cannot put into storm drains.

Because the water in the MS4 system is not treated, the things placed in Greencastle's storm sewers will end up in Big Walnut Creek, the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is a community project. It's individuals making a commitment to reduce pollution. It's not just that pop can you throw away that makes pollution," Norman said.

Besides storm water, the only thing that should be dumped into storm drains is clean water. Unfortunately, oils and greases, gasoline, grass clippings, leaves, mud and dirt, soap, sand and trash all often end up in the system.

These cause problem by either causing clogs in the MS4 system or by polluting our streams.

Norman said people need to think about things such as if soap they use to wash cars is biodegradable or where to dispose of oil or if water the lawn with water from a rain barrel is a viable option.

But the presentation was more than this, including a video on water treatment plants to let viewers know where tap water comes from.

Following the video, Pett made sure to point out that Greencastle has had no MS4 violations since the program's inception, nor has the city had any drinking water violations for the last two years. He also pointed out that Putnam County uses 1.5 million gallons of water daily.

"We should know that our water is clean and we should drink it rather than buying bottled water. We should also focus using less water," Pett said.

With the prime goal of MS4 being education, Norman said she hoped Thursday's event had served its purpose.

"If somebody learns something they didn't know before, we've had a successful public meeting," Norman said.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the MS4 program may contact Norman at 653-7719 or snorman@cityofgreencastle.com or Pett at garypett_2011@depauw.edu

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It would sure be nice if these events were publicized beforehand so that more people knew about it and would attend. It's kind of like hearing about a party you weren't invited to.

-- Posted by VolunteerFF on Fri, Mar 6, 2009, at 6:48 AM

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