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Friends of Peak Creek to leave their mark on the town

FOPC Stencil on SewerBy CALVIN PYNN

calvin@southwesttimes.com

 

Pulaski residents will see some new markings on manholes and sidewalks throughout the town in the near future.

Friends of Peak Creek (FOPC), the group dedicated to preserving the quality and value of the creek, were approved for a stormwater stenciling project by the Pulaski Town Council at Tuesday night’s work session. This project would allow FOPC volunteers to spray paint a mark on each storm drain in the town that prohibits dumping.

“Really, the only thing that should go in stormwater drains is stormwater, but it doesn’t necessarily happen that way,” said FOPC Board Member Cathy Hanks as she addressed the council Thursday night. “A lot of things get flushed down.”

Those various things could include phosphates from soap runoff, cigarette butts, fertilizer, and grass clippings. When it goes down the train, it all eventually flows into Peak Creek.

“Everything that’s going into a storm drain goes out of site and out of mind, and people don’t think about it, but it actually goes to a water way,” Hanks said. “In this case, the storm drains of Pulaski go to Peak Creek.”

Whatever ends up in Peak Creek in the storm drain will eventually make its way into the Claytor Lake, and then into the New River from there, she said.

By marking the storm drains, the group hopes to tackle pollution in the creek from an educational standpoint.

“This is not going to fix the creek because it is impaired, but it will keep it from getting worse,” Hanks said.

The stenciled symbol, designed by FOPC member and local artist Cheri Stenz, bears an image of a fish in the middle, with the words “NO DUMPING” written across the top, and a warning that the storm drain leads to Peak Creek.

The group will be following similar methods adopted by thousands of other communities throughout the United States and with some statewide programs across the country, according to Hanks. She went on to say that storm drain marking is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Conservation and Recreation in Virginia, and is also recognized as the best management practice under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

Roanoke is the nearest locality to mark their storm drains to prohibit dumping, although others throughout the state such as Alexandria, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Williamsburg. Like those other communities, FOPC in Pulaski will mark the town’s storm drains through the group’s volunteer base, as they have with their cleanup efforts over the past year.

While the group currently has corporate sponsors, a full board of directors complete with 31 voting members, they have also gained 50 volunteers through those cleanup efforts. Over the past year, they have pulled 52 trash bags and several truckloads worth of debris and brush from Peak Creek.

In order to prevent more unwanted material from ending up in the waterway, FOPC plans to handle all labor for the stenciling project, according to Hanks.

“It looks good for the town, it looks good for environmental groups, and it keeps the creek clean,” Hanks said. “It supports our cleanup activities that are already in place, and we’re willing to do all the work.”

The Council unanimously agreed to approve the project.

“If it helps keep the town clean, then I’m 100 percent for it,” council member Jamie Radcliffe said.

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