Storm Water Management: Protect Your Storm Drains

A problem that only seems to get worse is the amount of garbage and chemicals that leak into our storm drains and eventually end up in rivers and oceans, which seriously affect the quality of water. Two of the harmful items that enter our storm drains are cigarette butts and dog feces.

There are several ways in which we can help in decreasing the severity of this problem. One thing we can all do is attempt to do a better job at disposing of dog feces. They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, but given the incredible amount of dog owners today, I think we could say that a dog is a human’s best friend, not just a man’s. With more dogs, come more dog feces. All too often, we see numerous pet owners walking their dogs around their complex or neighborhood with no “doggie bags.” They basically let their dog “go” wherever the dog pleases, as long as it’s not on somebody’s yard. It may be awkward, but we really need to confront these people. If you are afraid to confront them, then at the very least, you can send them an anonymous note or contact a complex manager to discuss your concerns. Now, there are also several pet owners who have their own yard, so they assume no harm is done when their dog uses their yard as a restroom. Yes, it is their property, but during a heavy storm, some of their “property” may soon flow out of their yard and become the community’s property, especially if their yard is inclined. And eventually, it becomes storm drain property.

The other topic is cigarette butts leaking into our drains. According to research, approximately 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered in the world every year. That is a disturbing and outrageous statistic. If you are a smoker, you really need to start using that ashtray instead of flicking your cigarette butt from your car window or your patio or balcony. Given the fact that many establishments and buildings no longer allow smoking, it is even more vital than ever that smokers do not litter, as even more butts are now being littered outside.

While the bulk of this problem must be solved by having smokers take more responsibility, this battle can also be helped out by the non-smokers. I think back to a holiday like the fourth of July and think of the countless barbecues that were being held all across the country. I then wonder how many of these parties had ashtrays in the yards and/or patios and porches. If a smoker is hosting the party, then sure, you will most likely find at least one ashtray in the vicinity. However, the majority of non-smokers do not have ashtrays at their homes, which would make sense since they don’t smoke, but I recommend that you have one whether you smoke or not. I think having an ashtray on your porch or in your yard is similar to a mother buying condoms for her 16 year old son. No, the mother does not want her son having sex at age 16. Honestly, she would probably prefer that he wait until he is married and/or at least 25 years old! This is usually an unrealistic wish, so you must be ready to deal with reality. The mother is not promoting her son to have sex . . . she is merely promoting SAFE sex. The same can be said for buying ashtrays for your home. You are not promoting smoking . . . you are promoting proper disposal in the case that you are visited by smokers.

The simple solution would be for all smokers to quit smoking, but smoking is one of the most addictive habits in the world, so this is not a very reliable solution to depend on. Smokers will smoke, so even if you tell them not to smoke at your house, they will still find a place to light up, whether it be behind a bush or in your driveway. So go ahead and buy an ashtray. It’s a cheap investment for a priceless environment.

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