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Signs Remind CNM Community That Storm Water Drains Lead to Rio Grande, so Avoid Polluting the Ground

October 14, 2015 -- In an effort to make the CNM community aware that storm water flowing into storm drains carrying ground pollution goes directly to the Rio Grande, CNM students and instructors placed storm drain markers on drains around Main Campus.
Signs Remind CNM Community That Storm Water Drains Lead to Rio Grande, so Avoid Polluting the Ground

Oct 14, 2015

The markers – which say “No Dumping, Drains to River” -- are part of the ongoing CNM program “Water in the Desert,” an eight-week education series hosted by the CNM Sustainability Curriculum Committee to raise awareness of water resource issues. Each week through November, learning opportunities will be available through films, seminars and on-campus service activities relevant to a specific aspect of water issues in the desert. Click here to see the entire eight-week schedule.

“Many Albuquerque citizens don’t know that much of the pollution that ends up on the ground – cigarette butts, plastic bottles, fluids leaking from an auto, pesticides, harsh soaps used to wash cars or anything that ends up on the city’s many surfaces – starts to make its way to the Rio Grande with the very next rain storm or snowfall,” said Molly Blumhoffer, Geography instructor. “As soon as a pollutant hits a storm drain or an arroyo, it’s only a matter of time before the Rio Grande is polluted with these contaminants. Even if pollutants have accumulated on the ground during dry weather, they will most likely end up in the river after a subsequent storm.”

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This is particularly concerning since Albuquerque gets some of its drinking water from the river.

The goal of the project is to encourage people to stop polluting the ground so that less pollutants can be swept into storm drains and eventually the river. Some simple steps include:

  • Picking up after their pets and disposing of pet waste by wrapping it and placing it in the garbage.
  • Do not litter.
  • Wash cars on the grass or at a car wash so dirty soap doesn’t flow into nearby storm drains.
  • Turn gutter downspouts away from hard surfaces toward bushes, grass or trees.
  • Don’t over-fertilize your lawn and don’t apply fertilizers or pesticides before a heavy rain.
  • Fix cars so they don’t leak oil and other fluids.
  • Never put anything in a storm drain.

Click here for more information on storm water pollution.

Helping to install the signs was Dennis Serna, campus maintenance and operations supervisor.

Steve Glass, Biology and Environmental Science instructor in the School of Math, Science & Engineering and member of the CNM Sustainability Curriculum Committee, noted that it’s important to follow these prevention tips because a rain drop that falls in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains may make it to the Rio Grande in 20 minutes during a heavy rain.

“That is with the help of concrete lined ditches and storm drains that map the city’s landscape,” Glass said. “Those same lined ditches prevent pollutants from being absorbed by soils where microbes would decompose them. Storm water flows are too large to allow effective pollutant removal at the end of the pipe, so the best strategy is to prevent the accumulation of pollutants on urban surfaces. Only through public education – like the storm drain signs and awareness – can this pollution prevention objective be accomplished.”