Stormwater, I am Your Father
This weekend, our stormwater media team hit the streets of Salt Lake City to ask people what they knew about stormwater.
“What do you think of when I say stormwater?” When asked this question, we got a plethora of interesting answers. Ranging from educated guesses that turned outright to a stunned “Uhh… Star Wars…” It became pretty clear to our team that most people had never considered why there was a drain next to the sidewalk.
It seemed pretty clear after spending an afternoon in SLC that people were just as surprised to find out where stormwater goes as they were when they found out that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.
To be fair, most people have no idea what stormwater is until it is explained to them. Why should they? Every single person we interviewed had the same reaction I did when I was first explained the concept of stormwater: That’s nasty, and what can be done?
The problem is not a lack of empathy. People do care about the environment and care even more about their local wildlife preservation. It’s commonplace for people everywhere to reduce, reuse and recycle. In Salt Lake City alone, there were countless recycling bins and signs encouraging people to be conscious about where their trash goes.
The problem is awareness. It takes very little effort to make sure your dog’s poop ends up disposed of properly. But many just let the dog poop absentmindedly because at least the dog isn’t pooping in the house right?
Making stormwater a Death-star issue is not going to be easy. Mindsets are made in a default way. I remember asking my father when I was young why the Jordan river was so dirty and was told it was because of people polluting. In a roundabout way my father was right, but not for the reason he thought he was. People do not want to pollute our lakes, rivers and oceans, but do so in a default way when they leave their plastic in the street, their cigarette butts in the ground, or their dog poop on the ground. We are fighting the dark side of the force (ignorance) every day.
But, as put in The Last Jedi, “We are the spark that will light the fire that will burn down the First Order…” Ok, it’s not the best line ever made but the concept is still true. Our efforts to encourage stormwater awareness are not going to become a crazy trend on Twitter overnight, but they are important and necessary for a cleaner environment for all.
My plea to all who know the importance of stormwater is to encourage others to become educated and to make sure that stormwater maintenance is not a foreign concept. Stormwater is as simple to teach as recycling, all we need to do is do.
Remember, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
By Preston Vawdrey