Counting storm drains in his neighborhood was just the beginning for Lucas, who has now adopted a drain to maintain!
Last summer, the Seattle Aquarium offered high school students the opportunity to participate in our first-ever online marine science club, an eight-week drop-in program featuring guest speakers, behind-the-scenes Aquarium tours and opportunities for participants to earn service hours by completing conservation actions.
One participant, Lucas C., took those actions to the next level. After learning about his local watershed, he completed the suggested activity of counting storm drains in his neighborhood and noticed that some had stencils on them—and some of those were pretty faded. So went home and did a little research, learning that stencil kits are available by request from the City of Seattle. “The stencil says ‘DUMP NO WASTE—DRAINS TO PUGET SOUND,’ “ says Lucas, “Which I thought was perfect after learning about the watershed and researching how pollutants get into and out of our water.”
He adds, “Most storm drains direct water and pollutants to a nearby steam, lake and/or Puget Sound. A stenciled drain reminds neighbors and other community members that what goes down the drain will end up in our local waterways—which directly affects wildlife, marine life and the people in our community. When people see the stencil, I hope it reminds them to not dump pollutants like soap (from car washing), paint, antifreeze and used motor oil into storm drains.”
Lucas, along with his family, has also made other changes to help protect the marine environment we all depend on.
But did Lucas stop there? He did not! “I started to wonder who actually takes care of the drains,” he says. “Some have lots of leaves and other debris in them.” He found that, while city workers do some maintenance, community support is needed to keep drains clear. “Because my street has a natural spring running down it, I watched to see where that water goes,” Lucas continues. “Turns out it flows directly to a storm drain at the base of the hill next to my house.”
But was Lucas done? He was not! With an assist from his mom, he registered to adopt the drain that’s next to his house. “There were actually quite a few that I could have adopted, but I'll start with one and see how it goes,” he says. “They ask you to clean out the drain and report back every three months on how it’s going.” (Interested in adopting a drain yourself? Get the details on drain adoption!)
Lucas also learned that adopting a drain comes with naming privileges. And with that, we proudly introduce you to…Hermione “Drain”ger! As of this writing, Lucas had been caring for her for a couple of months. “She’s doing great,” he says. “The first time I cleaned her out it was all really old debris and lots of cobwebs and garbage. With the leaves falling down now, I check her weekly to make sure she's not clogged. I’ve filled a few buckets of leaves over the last several weeks. Sometimes a car gets parked on top of her cover and I don't think she likes that very much but I'm still waiting for the sign that says she's been adopted so people know she's there.”
How many storm drains can you count in your own neighborhood?
Adopting Hermione isn’t the only action that Lucas and his family have taken on behalf of the marine environment. “We’ve all made the switch to refillable water bottles instead of single-use bottles,” he says. “Learning about microplastics and what they do to our water and the marine life really made us think about how we were contributing to the problem and how we could do our part by making that change.”
“Marine science camp really opened my eyes to how even small changes can make a difference,” Lucas adds. “I think trying new things like the Aquarium’s marine summer camp is really good for broadening your horizons and shows you there are so many different jobs and things that might interest you if you just give them a try.”
Many thanks to Lucas—and his family—for making a difference for our local watershed, Puget Sound and all the animals that make their homes there!
Interested in volunteer opportunities for youth at the Seattle Aquarium? Visit our Youth Ocean Advocates page to learn more.