I was driving down Main Street in Sussex today and witnessed something that frustrated me. I was driving my work truck with the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee magnets on the side. If it was the first time this summer I had seen this it might not have bothered me so bad but this was the third time. If I had a more confrontational personality this environmental crime would not have gone unpunished. Luckily for the woman committing the crime I let it go, after all, it is not actually criminal but in my opinion it should be.
So what did she, and two others, do that frustrated me? She was emptying out a bucket of wash water directly into the storm drain. So why should this be an environmental crime? Well, when you empty anything directly into the storm drain it usually has a direct path to a natural stream or river. This means what ever grease and oil you cleaned off your car, windows, or whatever and throw down the storm drain it could potentially pollute your nearby stream. If every one did this can you imagine the impact. Who knows what was in the bucket the lady emptied out but even the cleaners you might use are harmful to water quality and fish and other aquatic species.
Even when we park our cars at the grocery store, if we have fluids leaking, they will find their way into the storm drains and then into the rivers. Next time when you're in a large parking lot find a storm grate and look around for the telltale sheen of oil following the low drainage areas of the parking lot. Then look at all the cars in the lot and consider if every car leaked how much oil or gas that could be entering the local streams.
There are programs that try to draw attention to this issue but the results are hard to quantify and so to is the impact that such actions have. As for a car leaking fluids, I know it is next to impossible to stop, but if you can keep your car tuned up to reduce such leaks. Every bit helps.