Columbia County officials say decorative sewer covers will soon be installed in newly constructed subdivisions, sending an eco-friendly message: "Dump No Waste - Drains to Waterways."
The covers, which are now required for all new developments, are part of an effort to clean up Columbia County waterways, said Billy Clayton, the county's Water and Sewerage Division director.
"It is part of our educational program so that people have some understanding of that which goes down these drains ends back in rivers, streams and waterways," Clayton said, adding the covers also count toward state-mandated water conservation education.
The first shipment of sewer covers has not yet arrived, but is expected soon for distribution to developers, said Margaret Doss, a county water quality manager. In 2006, about 150 new storm drains were added to the thousands already in the county, Doss said.
Decals on current county storm drains already warn residents that whatever is dumped into storm drains will likely end up in county waterways. But Doss said residents still pour things such as motor oil, grass clippings and pet waste into the drains.
"It is not that they are doing it to be bad," Doss said. "A lot of people think it goes to the treatment plant, but it goes to the creeks."
Clayton said storm drains that overflow with heavy rain are often found to be clogged.
The iron sewer covers, which feature a fish and a lily pad, cost about $100 each, which is $25 more than the ones currently used by developers. Clayton said developers will be reimbursed the extra cost this year and will be reimbursed 50 percent next year.
All of the county's thousands of storm drains will be retrofitted as resources are available, Clayton said, which could take as long as 10 years. The covers are also available to individuals and neighborhood associations.
For more information, call the Stormwater Utility Department at (706) 312-7245.
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