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May. 21, 2019
10:49 am


Brenau students team up to mark storm drains

By Jane Harrison
A submerged grid of pipes, culverts and conduits may be out of sight, but catchy new markers around Gainesville urge residents and passersby to keep in mind that what’s on the surface ultimately flows into Lake Lanier. Twenty-Five Brenau University freshmen spent a sunny October afternoon affixing flashy disks adjacent to storm water drains in the Academy, Washington, Prior, Boulevard and Spring Street area to let people know that what goes into the drains eventually ends up in the lake.
The  markers, which sport a fish illustration in the middle and “No Dumping, Drains to Lake” along the circumference, aim to educate people that effluent and pollutants that flow into the storm drains get washed into their main source of drinking water.
“It’s like connecting the dots,” said Dale Caldwell, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, who coordinated with Brenau’s Freshman Seminar and City of Gainesville water resources staff to supervise the project. The effort aims to help people connect street side storm drains and parking lot grates with the water source that quenches their thirst, supports wildlife, and floats their boats.
In the Brenau area, run off flows through underground creeks and pipes that don’t follow the lay of the land, Caldwell said. Pavement and buildings long ago altered the natural drainage into a complicated system that flows into Limestone Creek, a northern tributary of Lake Lanier.
Gainesville Stormwater Coordinator Jennifer Flowers distributed maps to students showing dozens of drains on and around campus. “A lot of people don’t realize the water that goes into them is not treated,” she said. The stickers “raise awareness about where it goes,” she said. The city’s Department of Water Resources secured funding for the stickers. Flowers said she hopes more local groups will volunteer to put the markers in other places around town.
She demonstrated the rather easy task, showing students how to scuff pavement with a steel brush, squeeze glue onto markers, and press them into place. Three groups set off with maps to attach markers near dozens of drains on campus and nearby sidewalks.
Lila Weaver, official with the college of Business and Communication, said the Freshmen Seminar segues students from high school to college by giving them opportunities to volunteer in the community. She, Caldwell and Flowers accompanied groups on the mission.
Students shared the work, with one doing the scraping, another squeezing the glue, and a third putting the sticker in place. Attaching each sticker took about five minutes. Within half an hour, it was hard to find an unmarked storm drain near campus. Flowers said the markers should stay in place 25 years.
Alexis Bagley and Alexis Trammell teamed up to apply the first marker on Boulevard. Bagley said it’s meaningful to work on a project that touches life close to her Brenau home. Bagley recalled being bothered by seeing “unpure water” as a child and feels responsible to do something about it as a young adult.
Lassie Childress grew up in the Chattanooga area near the Tennessee River and is familiar with how drainage from a growing metropolis flows into the river. “I like the idea of clean water” not just in her home river, but in the Chattahoochee River that feeds Lake Lanier, she said.
Want to Help Mark Storm Drains in Gainesville?
Contact Stormwater coordinator Jennifer Flowers to volunteer your group to apply storm drain markers around Gainesville. 770-532-4762,

Posted online 11/30/18
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