The question was met with blank stares. It was fairly early in the morning, perhaps too early to ponder such a question. City of Anniston Civil Engineer Lance Armbrester had just asked a group of Anniston High School students where they thought stormwater went after going down a city street drain. Hesitatingly, students ventured forth answers: “Recycled? In the sewer? Into the ground?”
The correct answer was a wake-up call: creeks and streams. From that point forward the group was engaged. The students and their chaperones were from Anniston High School’s Career Tech program and environmental sciences classes. Armbrester had invited them to join him on a downtown trek to label city storm drains. It wasn’t because Armbrester needed to know where they are located, he’s got a firm understanding of this; it was to add labels that would create greater awareness among passersby of the human impact on the environment.
Clad in fluorescent safety vests and brandishing trash grabbers, the students were spending their last school day before spring break to learn more about how things work. Armbrester explained how one drain leads to a system that connects all drains and eventually to an outlet into which water flows into a creek or stream. From there, the stormwater from downtown Anniston enters Snow Creek and eventually Choccolocco Creek.
“Do we drink it?”, asked a student. Armbrester did an admirable job explaining how Annistonians don’t, but downstream, others could be impacted by chemicals in stormwater runoff from Anniston. “We’ve got to do our part to look out for them,” he cautioned. “Even though we don’t drink the water, these streams have a direct impact on city of Anniston residents and our local ecosystem.”
Anniston’s Stormwater Management Program gives the City a comprehensive plan to manage stormwater runoff and offers citizens opportunities to learn about and engage in environmental efforts directed toward this aspect of city life. Events such as this field trip by high school students is an example of the type of engagement and education city officials hope to see more of. Armbrester says the program was designed to not only protect our streams, rivers and water supply, but to make residents aware of their responsibility to be good stewards of the environment.
You can help with stormwater management! Participate in community cleanup days, and teach your children to be good stewards of the environment.
Anniston’s stormwater program is funded by stormwater user fees. The program
consists of the following areas:
1. Public Education and Public Involvement
2. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
3. Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
4. Post-Construction Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment
5. Pollution Prevention & Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
Students used trash grabbers to lift debris from storm drains and sidewalks as they continued their trek. All of this trash could end up in our streams emphasized Armbrester. He pointed to an iron grate embedded in the asphalt and motioned for a student to step forward and assist with the installation of small, blue-and-silver disk emblazoned with a fish. “The fish reminds people that stormwater runoff affects aquatic organisms,” explained Armbrester.
As their visit was wrapping up, a chaperone approached Armbrester and offered, “Today will be something they will never forget – this has made a lifelong impression.”