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The calendar once again has turned to April (seems like it happens every year) and those of us in colder climates turn to thoughts of warmer weather, melting snow and that special time of the year in Maine, mud season. This muddy, mucky time of the year comes when the melting remnants of winter and spring rains wash pollution into our waterways…better known to most people as urban runoff season.
Urban runoff is surface runoff of rainwater in urbanized areas where the rain and snowmelt rely on storm drains to carry runoff from buildings and paved areas to nearby waterways. Unfortunately, the runoff also carries pollutants along with it such as oil, chemicals, and fertilizers directly to streams and rivers, negatively impacting our water quality. The Urban Runoff 5k in Portland, Maine, aims to bring attention to the issue by raising awareness of water pollution and to raise money to support clean water education in the Greater Portland area. This event, named one of the Best 5k Races in the US by best5ks.com, takes place this year on April 20 and is sponsored by IDEXX Water. In addition to a team of runners, IDEXX Water also has a team of volunteers to help run the event every year.
Looking for similar events in your area? Check with your local water utility for any events they are sponsoring for Earth Day or any other time of the year. Even if running isn’t your thing, these events are always looking for volunteers to help things run smoothly. You can also learn more about protecting your water quality from urban runoff with this guide from the EPA or by doing a quick internet search.