By Ben Olson
Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper (LPOW) plans to kickoff a new Citizen Science program this spring called the Storm Water Monitoring Program.
The non-profit organization aims to collect monthly samples of storm water in Sandpoint and Ponderay to determine whether this runoff carries common pollutants into local waterways during rain and snow events.
As this months-long endeavor can become expensive, LPOW is seeking donations to reach their goal of $20,000 by March 1 to cover costs of the laboratory tests.
“Storm water” refers to rain or melt-water runoff which collects and flows over hard surfaces like rooftops, parking lots and yards. It’s one of the biggest threats to water quality across the nation because storm water picks up items like litter, sediment, metals and synthetic chemicals as it flows over these hard surfaces. As the vast majority of storm water is untreated, any harmful substances it picks up along its journey eventually might end up in the water where pipes and culverts are emptied.
Since no state agency or other organization currently tracks the contents of storm water in the Lake Pend Oreille region, LPOW wants to determine what potential pollutants this runoff carries and how those pollutants might affect the health of local waterways and the people who use them.
To make a donation to the program or to volunteer, point your web browser to www.lakependoreillewaterkeeper.org/storm-water-monitoring-program.