Stormwater runoff is a major source of water pollution. That is why the Division of Water Pollution Control launched the Only Rain Down the Storm Drain campaign to educate Cleveland residents about how they can help lessen the impact of contaminated stormwater runoff on local waterways.
Rain water or snowmelt is stormwater runoff. The runoff washes contaminants that are on the ground into storm drains, which in some areas, can be directly released to local streams, creeks, the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. It is especially important that we protect Lake Erie, Northeast Ohio’s main source of drinking water. Contaminants, such as motor oil, fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste also can be pushed into storm drains and catch basins by stormwater and even water from yard sprinklers.
The Only Rain Down the Storm Drain campaign was kicked off in June with the unveiling of several large street kiosk posters positioned around Cleveland. Through the use of street kiosk posters, messaging on Cleveland Public Power’s digital billboard on I-90, literature, TV20 television programming, social media and other promotional methods, the multi-layered campaign shows citizens how their actions can make a positive environmental difference.
The kiosk poster, the CPP signage and other promotional elements of the campaign feature a specially designed Only Rain Down the Storm Drain logo.
A total of 10 kiosk posters will be located around Cleveland through October 31. Seven posters will rotate throughout the city. Three poster locations—East 185th Street and Neff Road, Lee Road and Harvard Avenue, and West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue—will remain stationary for the duration of the campaign.
The primary targets of the campaign are the city’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) areas, which are neighborhoods that have separate sewers. Wards 1, 11, 18 and 19 contain MS4s, which carry stormwater and wastewater in separate pipes. In separate sewer systems, stormwater from storm drains flows directly to a waterway. The majority of Cleveland’s sewer system is combined, which means stormwater and wastewater are carried in the same pipe to a sewage treatment plant.
To prevent harmful pollutants from being washed into MS4 waterways, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that major cities, including Cleveland, develop a stormwater management program. Part of that program is to conduct a public information/public education (PIPE) program, such as the Only Rain campaign.
Residents also are being encouraged by the campaign to report any dumping into storm drains, which is illegal. Violators can be fined up to $500 for each occurrence that causes damage to the City’s sewer system. To report dumping violations, residents should call (216) 664-DUMP.
Stormwater is the first issue highlighted in the multi-year Only Rain campaign. In the next few years, other topics to be addressed will include hazardous waste disposal, lawn fertilization and water-saving practices.