Virginia Beach ninth grader Samantha Kromkowski might always remember Memorial Day weekend 2015. Instead of hanging out at the beach every day like most teenagers, she searched for storm drains.
Why would a fun-loving teenager do that?
“She worked on the [Girl Scout Silver Award] project for 28 hours that weekend,” explains Carol Kromkowski, Samantha’s mom and Girl Scout Troop 22’s leader. “Some of the other troop members rotated in and out helping her, finishing up their hours for the award. For them, it was fun!”
The troop selected the City of Virginia Beach’s Clean Community Commission Storm Drain Marker Project as their Silver Award project, which requires each awardee to complete 50 hours on one project. Tanya Ford from the City of Virginia Beach and Jody Ullman from Lynnhaven River Now helped with background information and shared the location of more than 1,000 storm drains.
“The girls received locations in neighborhoods from Shore Drive to Inland View,” Carol notes. “They found each drain—sometimes they removed leaves or contacted the city to let them know the drain needed cleaning—and glued on markers.”
Each marker features a dolphin or a fish and notes where—Lynnhaven River, Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and other locations—the storm drain releases. The visual reminder can stop residents from dumping unwanted items on streets and in the drains.
“You shouldn’t put anything down or near the drain that could hurt a dolphin, which is just about everything,” Carol says.
According to the City of Virginia Beach website, a study showed that 50 percent of the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is due to storm water runoff. Water from streets picks up litter, motor oil, fertilizers and other pollutants.
Troop 22 shared their experience with two other troops. They met one troop in a shopping center parking lot to teach the girls about the drains and how to adhere the markers. They also produced a flier and pamphlet about the program.
“The girls really worked together and accomplished a lot in a short time [of about a month],” Carol says. “The city has asked if they’re interested in training other groups, too.”
To learn more about Storm Drain Marker projects in Coastal Virginia, visit askHRgreen.org/storm-drain-medallion-program.