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Although my mind is having a difficult time reconciling what I see on the calendar and what is actually happening outside my window, Mother Nature has a way of reminding us to be patient. The birds are chirping in the morning, the squirrels are emerging from their winter nests and if you look really, really closely you can almost see the buds on the trees. The promise of spring also brings the inevitable spring thaw, heavy rains and of course, urban runoff.
The surface runoff of rainwater and thawing snow is a natural part of the water cycle where water seeps into the soil and replenishes the ground water. However, in urban areas melting snow and rain water are often collected in storm drains and funneled directly into rivers and lakes. Runoff that flows over roads, parking lots, construction areas, fertilized lawn and golf courses, can pick up potential pollutants that may include pesticides, petroleum by-products, metals and bacteria.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), polluted runoff is one of the greatest threats to clean water in the US. The EPA estimates that 80,000 miles of streams and rivers are impaired by urbanization in the US.
There are a few things that we all can do to limit the pollution that ends up in our runoff, like limiting the use of fertilizers and pesticides by using native plants, making sure to keep our cars and other motorized vehicles well-maintained, washing our cars at a commercial car wash and disposing of pet waste properly.
But what if you want to do more? A quick Google search will find you a list of water-related and environmental charity races that help fund education and awareness and sometimes even help provide grants for local watershed quality stewardship projects.
IDEXX has been a long-time sponsor of one of these races in Portland, Maine called the Urban Runoff. The Urban Runoff, recently named one of the best 5Ks in the US by best5ks.com, raises funds to support clean water education in local Maine schools. The race coincides with Earth Day and the Urban Runoff is held in conjunction with the Green Neighbor Family Fest, where families and community members take part in hands-on activities about water and learn how to take better care of our environment. To learn more about the Urban Runoff on April 21, please visit https://www.urbanrunoff5k.com/.