Be an H2O Hero in your Community! We need your help in protecting our streams and other waterways. Several local water quality programs depend on volunteers so there are many opportunities for you to be an H2O Hero. No special skills or qualifications are required and any materials that are needed are supplied free of charge. These programs are suitable for students and school groups, scouts, families, friends, clubs, or neighborhood associations. Volunteers are welcome to participate on a one- time basis for even an hour or two and ongoing volunteers are of course greatly appreciated.
Storm Drain Marking
Looking for a fun and easy volunteer opportunity that you can do in your own neighborhood? Storm drain marking is popular with school groups, scouts, neighbors, families, and friends. Volunteers install the weather resistant H2O markers next to the storm drain using special adhesive.
The markers include the message “Keep Clean. Drains to Lake.” and are a great way to educate the community about stormwater pollution and to discourage illegal dumping. The markers also include the address for this website so residents can learn more about water quality.
Many residents do not know that the stormwater system in their neighborhood discharges stormwater runoff directly to the nearest stream or waterway. This stormwater is not treated at a wastewater treatment plant. Unfortunately, because of this lack of awareness, the improper disposal of materials such as unwanted paint, pet waste, and household chemicals into the storm drain is a widespread problem. In many neighborhoods, the stormwater system discharges to small streams which are especially vulnerable to pollution due to their relatively small size and volume of water.
Sturgeon Door Hangers
In addition to installing the markers, volunteers place sturgeon door hangers, with more detailed information about protecting our local waterways, throughout the neighborhood. All of the necessary supplies are available for free.
Did you know that litter is also a water quality problem? When it rains, trash along the road or in a parking lot is washed into the storm sewer and discharged to the nearest waterbody. There are many annual watershed clean ups that are always in need of volunteers.
Local clean up events include Monroe County’s Pick Up the Parks, the City of Rochester’s Clean Sweep, and many town and village cleans ups. Or organize your own watershed clean up. For more information, visit our event calendar.
Every autumn, the Ocean Conservancy sponsors the International Coastal Clean Up with more than 500,000 volunteers in 112 countries around the world. In New York State, the American Littoral Society coordinates the event and volunteers can register their site online or sign up to help at one of the established locations. For many years, Durand and Ontario Beaches, as well as many sites in the Town of Greece, have been cleaned up by volunteers as part of this event.
Planting Trees & Shrubs
The native plants that grow along a stream are an important part of the ecosystem and play a critical role in protecting water quality. The roots minimize steambank erosion while the leaves shade the stream helping to maintain proper stream temperature for fish. The vegetation also helps to filter stormwater runoff. Unfortunately, in many cases, as our communities were developed the vegetation along the stream was removed.
Volunteers, particularly school groups, are working to restore our waterways by planting trees and shrubs along the banks. Contact Us to learn about any ongoing efforts or to plan a new project.