In an effort to raise awareness around the issue of stormwater runoff, the city of Grand Rapids launched an effort this summer to mark catch basins with the words, “NO DUMPING, DRAINS TO RIVER/LAKE.” Steve Anderson, stormwater specialist with the city of Grand Rapids, said the effort was inspired by other cities working to increase visual awareness.
“We’ve always tried to inform the public of stormwater runoff,” Anderson said. “A lot of places are doing this to make it more of a visual awareness of catch basins … So I decided we’d give it a shot.”
The city of Grand Rapids posted a request for volunteers to assist in the stenciling of the catch basins. With more than 2,000 catch basins in Grand Rapids, Anderson said that at least 950 have been done already. One of the local volunteers, Alina Beer, was able to mark about 20 basins in her neighborhood. Beer moved to Grand Rapids 20 years ago from Chicago and has always been passionate about the clean air and water this area features.
“I just want to do my part to keep this the way it is for me, my granddaughter and future generations,” Beer said. “Many people take this for granted.”
Local nonprofit organization, Itasca Life Options, also answered the call to action when Program Coordinator Jennifer Gorman saw the post on Facebook didn’t have many responses.
“We like to be involved in the community in any way we can,” Gorman said. “This seemed like a great opportunity to volunteer and impact the community in a way that was not only helpful, but fun!”
Clients at ILO will continue to help paint the catch basins around the area. Gorman commented that their team is very pleased that they signed up for the project and is happy their clients had this opportunity to make a difference.
“This is another way we are trying to show the community the actual amount of ability our clients have. This is something anyone can participate in, makes an impact in the lives of others, and has been great when clients go by and point out some of the drains they participated in,” Gorman added. “It’s been a real self-esteem booster for clients. We have actually had a few custom requests to paint the fish colorfully from people that have seen what we are doing!”
Anderson said the city of Grand Rapids will plan to do the project for the next few years to see if it will increase awareness of stormwater runoff. He plans to make a Facebook post summarizing how everything went.
“I’m pretty impressed with what we’ve done this year,” Anderson commented.