by Robin Kemp

There’s a saying: We all live downstream. To raise awareness about the dangers of dumping chemicals and allowing litter to float into drains and bodies of water, the City of East Point is holding a Storm Drain Stenciling event on Thursday, April 15 from 4:30 p.m. to dusk.

It might not seem that big of a deal to drop an empty bottle on the ground or dump out your used oil in a nearby creek. Although we live far from the ocean, we get our drinking water from local sources and what we do in Clayton County and the Southern Crescent has a big impact on what comes out of our faucets and the ice machines and drink dispensers we use every day.

Dumping used motor oil, lawn chemicals, pesticides, or household cleaners into creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes or storm drains can kill plants, animals, birds, and fish. It also loads local freshwater sources with cancer-causing chemicals. Some of them make the water smell bad when you turn on the faucet. Others course silently into your home and body without any warning at all.

A single plastic bottle thrown on the ground will float downriver to the ocean, where the sun and waves pound it into microscopic bits of plastic that, in turn, are eaten by fish, shrimp, and crabs. The microplastic particles settle in their bodies. When those aquatic creatures are caught–by you or by a commercial fishing boat that supplies your local grocery store or restaurant–you and your family eat those microplastic paticles, which then enter your body.

Communities across the United States have held similar stenciling and drain-decorating events to let residents know about the problem. Here are some examples from other places:

The April 15 event is sponsored by Keep East Point Beautiful and the City of East Point Water and Sewer Department.

If you’d like to take part, e-mail to register, then meet at East Point City Hall, 2757 East Point Street. You might want to wear old clothes and shoes that you wouldn’t mind getting paint on. This is a family-friendly event.

You can learn more about the Clean Water Campaign, report pollution, and find educational activities for kids at

If you want more technical details, here’s the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual, Vols. 1 and 2.

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