Last Saturday, in the neighborhoods of Kings Down and North Springs, off Chamblee Dunwoody Road, neighbors waved cheerfully as a crew of six hearty souls embarked on the first Volunteer Storm Drain Marking Project in the city of Dunwoody.

The morning started at Starbucks, where Shane Cape of Public Works laid out maps and routes and briefed the group on the finer points of “bonding” the storm drain medallions to the storm drains.

Gathering at the designated starting point and donning orange safety vests, protective rubber gloves, and safety glasses, out came the concrete brush, the caulking guns, and adhesive, and the group placed the first medallion. It was readily apparent that our bonding technique needed improvement! Two AHAs from the morning…storm drains usually come in pairs (on either side of the road), and they are usually at the bottom of a hill or on the low side of a cul-de-sac.

The purpose of this project, and others like it in municipalities across the country, is to bring awareness to the importance of storm drain systems to collect and carry away urban runoff. Rain that falls on impervious or hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways, roads, and parking lots, isn’t absorbed; it becomes stormwater runoff, the nation’s number one source of water pollution flowing into local streams and creeks, rivers and lakes, and eventually to the oceans.

In 2009 the city created a Stormwater Uility to provide a dedicated funding source for maintenance of the public stormwater infrastructure. Stormwater utility fees are paid by property owners and are set to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the infrastructure and reduce water pollution caused by stormwater. Dunwoody’s system includes over 69 miles of city-maintained pipes to convey stormwater.

Interesting facts:

• A city inventory in 2010 and 2011 identified 18,700 stormwater structures and 69 miles of city-maintained pipes to convey stormwater.

• About 75 percent of the city’s Stormwater System consists of Corrugated Metal Pipe (CMP).

• The typical service life of CMP in Dunwoody is about 35 years.

• The city currently has about 300 metal pipes older than 35 years.

• A number of components have been identified for replacement through citizen reports or through the system inventory.

• The cost of this backlog is estimated at about $3,300,000.

Communities are engaging in Storm Drain Marking Programs to raise public awareness of urban run off and practices that generate pollutants. We can all be helpful and influential in maintaining our system’s infrastructure and the quality of our water:

• Remind your friends and neighbors that storm drains are not disposal systems for yard waste, pet waste, or for disposing of paint or chemicals.

• Dispose of household hazardous waste at designated locations or events.

• Compost yard clippings.

• Read the labels on fertilizers and pesticides! Do you need them?

• Recycle motor oil and other vehicle fluids at oil recycling centers.

• Reduce litter whenever possible; put litter and recyclables in designated bins (or take it home to recycle there).

After three hours of “bonding,” the morning adventure placed over 50 medallions on 50-plus storm drains. Billy and Hal got the prize for Most Medallions Placed, Bob Wolford won for Best Music Selections to entertain us. Drew and Shane kept us safe, organized, and on task, and Connie provided the “photo opps.” With a pre-party at Starbucks, an effective work party “in the field,”, and a post-party at Farm Burger— the day was a huge success.

If you or your group would like to participate in a similar project, call Drew Cutright at 678.382.6815, or email at If you see anyone - disposing of any materials into storm drains, immediately contact the city of Dunwoody Public Works at 678-382-6850.

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