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Combating Contaminants

Citizens are taking stormwater pollution into their own hands.

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Memphis may be known for the its high-quality drinking water, but according to officials from the city's Public Works Stormwater Division, pollutants entering our stormwater drains may ruin the reputation.

Last week, stormwater manager Tom Lawrence led a public forum at Memphis Botanic Garden to discuss what citizens can do to help. Attendees interested in taking matters into their own hands were encouraged to sign up with one of three citizen action groups.

"People who work in the field might see issues we think are important, but people in the public only see what's immediate in their neighborhoods," said Lawrence. "This is a chance for them to address problems that may not be on the radar screen because it's not a big national problem."

One group will be responsible for tackling toxins, such as oil, antifreeze, paint, herbicides, and animal waste, which run off yards and pavement and into the drains during heavy rains. Another group will handle the litter that washes into drains by educating children and forming litter pick-up groups.

The final group will deal with what Lawrence says is the number-one polluter of stormwater nationwide -- silt, sediment, and gravel.

The groups will begin their individual meetings in June, and Lawrence says they're still looking for volunteers. Anyone interested should contact the Stormwater Division of the Department of Public Works. n

E-mail: bphillips@memphisflyer.com

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