When it Rains, What Drains?

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National Stormwater Awareness Week: September 23-27

A week dedicated to the education of stormwater and its powerful effects on the environment

What is Stormwater Runoff?

Stormwater runoff is the rain the doesn't soak into the ground and picks up pollutants as it passes down the roofs of homes and buildings, through the gutters, across the ground and into storm drain inlets. Unfortunately, this stormwater runoff does not go to a waste-water treatment plant and can end up in local creeks and rivers. The various pollutants that can be picked up along the way can include metals, oils, chemicals and bacteria. Stormwater runoff is a leading cause of water pollution.

A week dedicated to the education of stormwater and its powerful effects on the environment

What Can You Do?

While we certainly can't stop the rain from falling, we can recognize and prevent stormwater pollution to protect ourselves and our wildlife. One excellent rule of thumb is, “If you wouldn't want to swim in, don't put it in the drain.” Here are a few other ways to prevent stormwater pollution:

  • Dispose of and store trash and chemicals properly. Some of the most popular items that can be stored or disposed of the wrong way are: paint, garbage, mislabeled containers, uncovered chemicals, detergent, leaves and medications.
  • Never apply pesticides immediately before rain is forecasted and try using organic rather than synthetic fertilizers.
  • Recycle motor oil and maintain your vehicle to prevent leaks.
  • Place rocks or shrubs across a slope to interrupt water as it flows downhill.
  • Remove visible debris from draims.
  • Don’t empty ashtrays in parking lots or other areas besides their proper containers.

Source: City of Jonesboro, Arkansas Document

What is GP Doing?

Green Bay's Broadway Mill is one example of our many mills that are making significant strides towards the elimination of stormwater runoff. They invested $2 million in infrastructure to capture 100 percent of the stormwater runoff from its property. This stormwater collection and recycling system eliminated four stormwater discharge points from entering the local Fox River. The mill also built two new wastewater clarifiers for its on-site wastewater treatment plant. This allows the mill to continue recycling two-thirds of the water it uses to manufacture paper products, and take in water from the Fox River–returning it cleaner than when it left the river.

For its efforts, the Green Bay mill was given the 2019 Business Friend of the Environment award by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. This is in addition to the 2019 Watershed Hero award given by the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance the mill received earlier this year.

A week dedicated to the education of stormwater and its powerful effects on the environment

GP's Mike Kawleski (second from left) accepts the WMC 2019 Business Friend of the Environment award in Madison.

GP is clear that sustainable practices go beyond creating products to help improve people's lives, it should also enhance the quality of life for consumers, employees and everyone that we share the planet with. During Stormwater Awareness week and beyond, you are encouraged share the ways that we can all do our part in taking better care of the environment.