Storm drain project aims to raise water quality awareness

Richland County Stormwater Management, in partnership with Columbia Water, is asking residents for help marking local storm drains – and beautifying their neighborhoods in the process.

The project is part of the County’s “Drains Aren’t Dumps” campaign. The annual effort aims to highlight the harmful effects pet waste, lawn clippings and excess lawn chemicals have on area waterways when they enter storm drains.

Participating neighborhoods will be entered into a contest, with three of the neighborhoods having one of their storm drains painted by local artist Jessica Dame. Entrants can be in Richland County or the City of Columbia, and winners will be randomly selected in October.

“During this year’s campaign, instead of us selecting which drains will be painted, we’re giving more neighborhoods an opportunity to get involved,” said Chenille Williams, education program coordinator for Stormwater Management.

To get started marking storm drains in their neighborhood, residents should visit and follow the steps to sign up.

A Stormwater Management representative will provide training and materials (i.e., safety vests, gloves, door hangers, a wire brush, a caulking gin and adhesive) to groups that register. To help with marking the drains, the County has created metal medallions that read “No Dumping – Drains to River.”

Marking storm drains is a fun outdoor activity that lends itself to social distancing and is good for all ages, said Williams, who recommends having at least two people to mark a storm drain. At least 100 neighborhoods in Richland County and the City of Columbia contain drains that can be marked.

“I’ve worked with students in elementary schools to mark drains on their schools’ campuses,” Williams said. “Up until 2020, we got a great response from citizens interested in marking drains. We’re trying to bring the program back and pick up that participation again.”
Find out more about reducing pollution in local waterways by visiting the Drains Aren’t Dumps website.