thumb Concrete stampsmallConcrete stamp used in LOW County and in Baudette (Credit: Mike Hirst, LOW SWCD)Painting messages beside storm drains to help the public understand that only rain should go down the drain, because they divert water to either the Rainy River or Lake of the Woods, began several years ago as a cross-border project in Fort Frances, ON and International Falls, MN.  The project has grown every year with Kenora, ON and Ranier, MN both taking part and last year, Baudette, MN joined in!  This year was no different.  Kenora, ON and Baudette, MN both took on the project again and it was a huge success in both communities.

In Baudette, the “No Dumping, Drains to Bay” message was painted on 45 storm drains around town by members of Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack #62.  In addition, this year the Lake of the Woods Soil and Water Conservation District worked with the County and City to utilize a concrete stamp on new construction around curbs and gutters - the drains get permanently stamped when concrete goes in and say “No Dumping Leads to Lake”.  Not only Baudette, but other parts of the County, now have these.

In Kenora, the storm drain stenciling program was led by the Lake of the Woods District Stewardship Association, who brought children from the Kenora Rec Centre Day Camp out to learn about shoreline buffers, stormwater and storm drains.  Together, they painted the message “A Healthy Lake Starts Here” beside 50 storm drains in the City.

The purpose of these events is to have the painted message serve as a reminder to all of us to be mindful of the types of harmful things that can go down storm drains and pollute public waters. The water that we use to flush our toilets and take showers is treated, but the water that runs off our streets and driveways is not. Runoff collects all sorts of chemicals, oil and fluids, pet waste, fertilizers, and litter as it travels down the city drains and through underground pipes. These pipes lead right into Baudette Bay of Lake of the Woods, the Rainy River and to the north, Safety Bay of Lake of the Woods in Kenora. 

A few helpful tips to help out are: wash your car(s) on your lawn instead of driveway and use biodegradable soaps; sweep driveways instead of hosing them off; pick up dog waste; avoid blowing mowed grass into the streets; repair leaks of oil and fluids from vehicles; and avoid use of chemicals and fertilizers.