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Volunteers Needed for Storm Drain Marker Project

Storm drain marker featuring Sherlock ShadIt’s that time of year when Sherlock Shad (pictured left) begins appearing more frequently in Arlington neighborhoods. But the county needs help attaching the storm drain markers bearing his likeness.

Arlington marks many of its more than 10,000 storm drains as a reminder that anything going into a drain heads directly to local streams that flow into the Potomac River. The river is the source of tap water for Arlington and much of the D.C. metro area.

Nothing should be dumped into storm drains, per Arlington County Code Section 26-5, which reads: “…it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge directly or indirectly into the storm sewer system or state waters, any substance likely, in the opinion of the County Manager, to have an adverse effect on the storm sewer system or state waters.”

Arlington partners with the neighboring jurisdictions of Fairfax County and Alexandria to all order the same style of markers. Ordering the markers in bulk helps each jurisdiction keep costs down. The costs vary each year based on how many markers need to be attached.

Arlington County Department of Environmental Services Stormwater Outreach Specialist Jen McDonnell said in addition to affixing the markers to currently unmarked drains, volunteers replace some markers that are damaged or have come loose from the pavement.

“Whether it’s snow removal or new construction, these markers do come off with time,” said McDonnell. “Not only are they [volunteers] affixing the markers, but they can tell me which streets need new markers or what is unmarked.”

The markers list different streams depending on which neighborhood they are placed in. Some of the waterways include Lubber Run, Four Mile Run, and Gulf Branch.

The glue used to attach the markers to the pavement does not work in cold, wet conditions. Therefore, the markers only can be applied on dry days during the late spring, summer and fall.

Nearly anyone can volunteer to help out, including adults, scout groups or middle school and high school students wishing to fulfill service hours. Volunteers receive all the materials necessary to attach the markers. Once finished with the task, volunteers report which drains they have marked so the locations can be entered into an electronic database.

“This project allows the citizens to be involved and clues them in to all the storm drains. It makes them think about if there are things in the street, where it all goes,” McDonnell said. “It’s a great, easy program that people can get out and do whenever they have time for it.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer to affix the markers in their neighborhood should contact Jen McDonnell at [email protected] or 703-228-3042. Residents can also contact her to report a storm drain in need of a new marker.

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