OC Storm Drain Program Begins

OCEAN CITY – Officials say a new storm drain program will continue throughout the winter months.

On Wednesday, Environmental Engineer Jenelle Gerthoffer presented members of the Ocean City Coastal Resources Legislative Committee (Green Team) with an update on the town’s new Adopt A Storm Drain pilot program. She said volunteers in the Montego Bay community will be cleaning around select storm drains through the winter.

“We’ve talked about this a little bit,” she said. “In Montego Bay, we worked closely with the HOA, and we have our first seven storm drains adopted in the area, which is a very small percentage but literally we started it last week.”

Each fall, the town’s public works department works with a contractor to begin the task of cleaning out the resort’s storm drain system. Over a course of months, crews clean out thousands of linear feet of piping and hundreds of catch basins in multiple phases.

However, since drains are not cleaned on a daily or weekly basis, committee members earlier this year began working on a program that tasks volunteers with adopting a storm drain and cleaning the area around it. The program began last week in Montego Bay.

“It’s similar to the dune patrol, so you get trash bags, gloves, litter grabbers,” Gerthoffer said. “A lot of the people who are volunteering say they already did this before. It’s great but now we can give them trash bags and whatnot, whatever helps them.”

Gerthoffer said the pilot program would continue throughout the winter.

“We’re going to continue to work with that through the winter to see how that goes, work out any kinks,” she said. “So hopefully we can make it a townwide program come summer.”

Gerthoffer also told committee members this week that the town would also begin a storm drain art program in the spring. She noted that stenciled artwork placed near storm drains would bring awareness to the fact that stormwater drains to the bay.

“We’ve been working with public works, and public works is onboard to do the stenciling,” she said.

Committee members noted that the town had enacted a similar art program years ago using medallions. Gerthoffer noted that this time, the town would be using spray paint to add messaging near the storm drains.

“These you won’t be able to peel off the ground,” she said.

When asked about the installation, committee members agreed the public works department should focus its efforts to bayside communities. Gerthoffer added that the artwork would only be installed along town streets.

“We’ll stay off Coastal Highway for right now because that ties to State Highway,” she said. “We would want to get their approval.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.