Illustrated Drain Markers Focus on Sustainable Wastewater Practices

The Takeaway: Alabama community sports winning wildlife designs and one thousand storm drain markers.

In many communities storm drains are “out of sight, out of mind,” only noticeable when runoff and debris collide to bring about stormwater-system failure. Alabama’s City of Fairhope took the opposite tack—holding a drain-marker design contest that links sustainable wastewater practices to thriving coastal wildlife. Three winning designs and more than one thousand informative markers embellish storm drains across the city. Alabama’s Coastal Management Program and Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve played prominent roles.

Students from Fairhope High School submitted their creations to the drain-marker design contest with the help of Weeks Bay Reserve and Eastern Shore Arts Center. The winning designs, displaying area shorebirds, were unveiled during a public ceremony at the city’s bayfront boat ramp.

“An important part of the educational component of the project was communicating in ways that everyone could understand, making the lessons accessible and digestible for all,” says Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop, director of economic and community development for Fairhope. The markers emphasized “simple steps like not pouring grease into the kitchen sink or not putting lawn debris into the storm drain.”

A brochure educates the public about stormwater pollution and ways to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff. The State Lands Division distributed this brochure to other Alabama coastal communities as a way to encourage similar efforts.

A project grant was provided by the Alabama Coastal Management Program. (2018/Updated 2020)

Partners: Alabama Coastal Management Program, City of Fairhope, Eastern Shore Arts Center, Fairhope High School, Weeks Bay Reserve