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Photo by Fritz Rethage     Posted August 26, 2005

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DPW Labels Storm Drains
Department of Public Works

The Hasbouck Heights Department of Public Works has been marking storm drains on all borough streets during the summer. (Marking storm drains on county roads such as The Boulevard, Terrace, etc., are the responsiblilty of the county.)

Marking involved gluing a purchased storm drain marker to the storm drain. The method of using markers may last up to 10 years, while the option of stenciling storm drains using paint, may last about two years.

Why Label Storm Drains?

Water from rain and melting snow that flows over lawns, parking lots and streets is known as stormwater. This water, also called runoff, travels along gutters, into catch basins and through storm drain pipes and ditches, and eventually discharges into our streams and rivers untreated.

Along the way, the runoff picks up trash (fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts, styrofoam cups, etc.) and toxins (used motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides, pet droppings, etc.).

The transport of these pollutants into local water bodies can result in the destruction of fish, wildlife, and habitats; threats to public health due to contaminated food and drinking water supplies; and losses of recreational and aesthetic values.

They also can soak into the ground contaminating the ground water below.

Area residents may not be aware that most storm drains empty directly into local waterways, without treatment.

Some individuals may view storm drains as receptacles for trash, used motor oil, leftover paint, pet waste or other pollutants. Storm drain labeling serves as an educational tool to remind people about the connection between storm drains and local water bodies.

Storm drain inlet labeling is also a requirement of New Jersey’s new municipal stormwater permitting program. All Tier A municipalities are required to establish a storm drain inlet labeling program and label all storm drain inlets that are along municipal streets with sidewalks, and all storm drains within plazas, parking areas, or maintenance yards operated by the municipality.

Here are just a few ways to reduce nonpoint source pollution or people pollution:

LITTER: Place litter, including cigarette butts and fast food containers, in trash receptacles. Never throw litter in streets or down storm drains. Recycle as much as possible.

FERTILIZERS: Fertilizers contain nitrates and phosphates that, in abundance, cause blooms of algae that can lead to fish kills. Avoid the overuse of fertilizers and do not apply them before a heavy rainfall.

PESTICIDES: Many household products made to exterminate pests also are toxic to humans, animals, aquatic organisms and plants. Use alternatives whenever possible. If you do use a pesticide, follow the label directions carefully.

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS: Many common household products (paint thinners, moth balls, drain and oven cleaners, to name a few) contain toxic ingredients. When improperly used or discarded, these products are a threat to public health and the environment. Do not discard with the regular household trash. Use natural and less toxic alternatives whenever possible. Contact Bergen County Solid Waste Management Office for information regarding household hazardous waste collection.

MOTOR OIL: Used motor oil contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to animals, humans and fish. Do not dump used motor oil down storm drains or on the ground. Recycle all used motor oil by taking it to a local public or private recycling center.

CAR WASHING: Wash your car only when necessary. Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles its wash water. Like fertilizers, many car detergents contain phosphate. If you wash your car at home, use a non-phosphate detergent.

PET WASTE: Animal wastes contain bacteria and viruses that can contaminate shellfish and cause the closing of bathing beaches. Pet owners should use newspaper, bags or scoopers to pick up after pets and dispose of wastes in the garbage or toilet. ###

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