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Leaving a mark

Fishtown community puts spotlight on storm-water drains by installing new decals.

Applying life lessons: Adaire student Lincoln Rinaldi installs a storm-drain marker outside his school at Palmer and Thompson streets during Earth Day festivities on April 24. PHOTO: MONIKA MASLANY

Members of the Fishtown community celebrated Earth Day by focusing on an integral part of the neighborhood’s waterway system: storm-water drains.

Volunteers from Fishtown Neighbors Association and parents and students representing Friends of Adaire installed 27 storm-water drain decals, in addition to collecting dozens of bags of trash, throughout 19125.

Originally planned as part of the citywide Philly Spring Cleanup on April 10, volunteers placed the markers during FNA’s Earth Day festivities on Saturday, April 24.

Featuring a shad fish denoting the Delaware Direct watershed, decals were provided by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary via the Philadelphia Water Department.

Fishtown resident and Friends of Adaire member Denis Devine was inspired by his children to add the activity to the regular cleanups organized by the FNA beautification committee.

“My own boys, 7 and 9, have been participating in such cleanups since they were toddlers … They’ve grown increasingly interested and frustrated with pulling out trash from the storm drains,” Devine said. “That’s part of what inspired me to want to add this component to the regular cleanup that Ellis Mair and FNA have gotten down to  a science.”

Devine was equally moved by a simple gesture that has become somewhat commonplace for some people growing up and living in the city for decades.

A few years ago, while sitting on his front steps, Devine saw a young child drop a candy wrapper on the ground. The older man walking with the child scolded him, and then demonstrated to throw it in a nearby storm drain, according to Devine.

“I was aghast, but I realized the older guy had been taught that, and obviously thought he was teaching the kid something important,” he said. “He was doing the right thing, just with bad information. So, that helped convince me, too, that the simple act of marking storm drains could make a difference to a guy like that.”

While volunteers took only a few hours to leave their marks with the decals, students were schooled on Friday, April 9, on the importance of storm drains prior to the actual event.

“[Adaire] had 16 kids participate in the Zoom led by Francesca Ramaccioti of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary,” Devine said. “She discussed everything from point versus nonpoint source pollution, to everyday ways that kids can help keep litter out of the storm drains, to the storm-drain marking effort itself.”

Those lessons are ultimately what the activity was all about, according to a social media post by FNA.

“It’s helping people understand that keeping trash out of the storm drains helps the wildlife and water quality of the Delaware River.” ••

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