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South Salt Lake Journal

South Salt Lake joins nationwide effort to prevent runoff pollution

May 06, 2024 03:15PM ● By Bailey Chism

South Salt Lake residents have the opportunity to learn more about the drainage system and how to keep the water clean. (Photo courtesy of Cherie Wood)

South Salt Lake is the first city in Utah to join a national effort to keep the city’s storm drains clean. 

Salt Lake City has their own local program that allows residents to adopt and clean storm drains, but South Salt Lake is the first to join a nationwide program to keep the storm drains clear of any waste. 

Residents have the opportunity to “adopt” a storm drain in the city and work to keep it clean throughout the year. Adopting a storm drain may sound unusual, but it helps in the efforts to avoid flooding as spring runoff begins and helps keep the water that flows to rivers and the Great Salt Lake clean. 

“The adopt-a-drain program allows them to not only adopt a drain, keep that drain clean, but understand how the whole system works,” said Spencer Dunn, the public works education and outreach coordinator. 

Debris can build up outside these storm drains, and when those get clogged, flooding is a risk for the surrounding area. Rain washes anything that’s on the streets down storm drains and into lakes and rivers. Keeping those areas clean can prevent harmful runoff pollution, such as trash, oil, grease, soap and more. 

“Stormwater does not get treated,” Dunn said. “It goes straight into Mill Creek, Jordan River and into the Great Salt Lake.”

The water that’s flushed or comes out of houses is treated. There are points where treated water can be cleaner than untreated water and it’s important not to put anything down the storm drain that can disrupt the pH levels. That will create algae blooms and disrupt the flow of water, which could lead to stoppage and flooding. 

“This program really helps us reach the community at a level that shows them that we have a vested interest in keeping the water clean,” Dunn said. “You know water is life and in all its forms and not only for drinking water but for the fish and the plant growth.” 

By letting pollutants down the storm drains and into the water, it can actually choke off things to the point where plants and animals die off. 

In the coming weeks, the Stormwater Division of Public Works in South Salt Lake will be reaching out to communities, businesses, schools and more to promote this program and hopefully convince people to adopt a drain. 

“It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to continue to clean those inlets but it allows them the opportunity to get involved in a much more hands-on fashion,” Dunn said. 

The program asks those who adopt a storm drain take 15 minutes a month to check and clean their drain. They will also receive a kit to help with that, which will include a 5-gallon bucket, gloves, a vest, a safety sheet and stickers. The safety sheet will have tips on how to safely clean their adopted drain. 

The program launched in April and will be ongoing, so anyone interested in adopting a drain can do it anytime. South Salt Lake has over 1,600 storm drains throughout the city, but not all of them are easily accessible. The city’s goal is to get as much support as they can, but they don’t have a number of how many they’d like to have adopted. 

“We care about South Salt Lake, and we know the residents there do too, and I think this will be a fun partnership and we expect it to be very successful,” Dunn said. λ