Storm drain warnings bear repeating

Recently a Minot man was in court after he was caught dumping used motor oil down an city storm sewer.

We wondered aloud just who would do such a thing knowing that Minot’s storm sewers empty into the Souris River.

Since then, a group of MSU biology students and others decided to label some of the storm sewers near MSU, making it clear that anything dumped there on purpose or by natural drainage will end up in the river.

It was a terrific idea, which they borrowed. It’s a program that maybe shouldn’t be necessary, but hey, whatever it takes to keep the river clean – and the public informed. Good for the students and the faculty behind the program.

Heidi Super, Minot State University biology professor, helped spearhead the project that involved painting a message adjacent to storm drains. Ultimately about 180 storm drains had the inscription “Drains to Souris River” painted nearby. Some 60 people including MSU and high school students and members of Friends of the Souris River participated.

The labeling isn’t just about waste oil but any debris somebody might allow to enter a storm sewer.

“We don’t want people to think that no matter what you put down a drain in the city that it can be treated and made safe and strained and cleaned up,” said Super. “We want awareness. Straws, plastic bags and things are a big problem in the river for fish and turtles and wildlife. Fertilizer and oil from streets affect the chemistry of the water too.”

What happens when the painted messages wear off? Hopefully they will be repainted along with the other 95 percent of the city’s storm sewer openings.

An ongoing project would teach kids while they are young that waste – any waste – does not just disappear, at least not harmlessly.