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Stormwater management

By Emily Hauck, Environmental Outreach Specialist, MCBH | Marine Corps Base Hawaii | November 18, 2019

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While swimming, waterskiing, or boating in Kaneohe or Kailua Bay have you seen plastic bags or cigarette butts floating around you?  I have. Yuck! Did you know that storm water is a large source of pollution for both the Kaneohe and Kailua Bay? When it rains, pollution like trash, oil, pesticides, fertilizers, household chemicals, and toxic pollutants are washed into the ocean without being treated or filtered. Paved concrete and asphalt surfaces on roofs, driveways, streets, buildings, and parking lots send rainwater rushing into gutters and storm drains. This storm water – carrying all the pollution and debris it collects along the way – then gets emptied into drain systems that flow directly into Oahu’s bays.

Here at Marine Corps Base Hawaii you and I can help keep our bays and ocean clean.  We have a MCBH Storm Water program whose mission is to empower and provide guidance on minimizing our impact on water quality in order to protect the health and the environment of MCBH residents and workers.  

Take a look around and you will find numerous Storm Water management practices right here, across MCBH. He Xu-Sadri, Program Manager for MCBH Clean Water, has implemented a project to stencil storm drains across Marine Corps Base reminding everyone, ‘No Dumping’ into the storm drains as they lead directly to the ocean. Trash, such as plastic bags and bottles, clogs waterways and can suffocate and disable wildlife. Cigarette butt filters release toxic chemicals and become lodged in the digestive tracts of seals, birds, and many sea creatures. Xu-Sadri conducts construction site inspections across the base. Construction sites are a common concern with storm water because of the run-off that can occur after a heavy rain. Dirt from construction zones and eroded creeks cloud the water, destroy habitat and impede healthy plant growth. Storm water trainings/classes are also available for base personnel that are interested in learning about proper protocol, management practices, and procedure for storm water events.

So, what can you do to help reduce your storm water impact?

  • Wash cars away from storm drains, especially if using strong chemicals or soaps (at worksites/units, remember to use wash stations for military vehicles).
  • Never dump ANYTHING down storm drains, especially pesticide, paint, oil, or other hazardous material.
  • Pick up trash off the ground and secure your trash can lids to ensure nothing spills into the drain and ocean.
  • If you see a vehicle dripping liquid, use a drip pan (at worksites/units, have a spill response kit on site).
  • Report any illicit discharge to MCBH Environmental Division.

Many pollutants can have impacts on the plants, animals, and people that depend on the Base. Fertilizers contribute to growth of algae and reduced oxygen in the surrounding freshwater and marine habitats. Some fish, especially from the Marina Fuel Pier, are unsafe to eat because of high PCBs and mercury concentrations. While bacteria and other pathogens make waterways unsafe for recreational activities like boating and swimming.

The quality of the water that enters our drainage system directly impacts the health of our islands because these waters flow untreated to our natural waterways and ocean. If you have more questions about storm water practices or would like to report a storm water issue, contact He Xu-Sadri, Clean Water Program Manager, at 808-257-3245 or he.xusadri@usmc.mil

 

Teamwork of the MCBH Storm Water Program and other Regulatory Agencies:

Storm Water works with other Environmental programs, state agencies, as well as other DOD departments aboard MCBH to foster shared responsibility for protection of our wai (water). The Department of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, and other state and federal law-makers have developed regulations regarding storm water management and preventative practices. Without such regulations, the quality of MCBH’s beaches would deteriorate, the fish and coral populations could plummet, and recreation on any of the shorelines would likely involve wading through contaminated water. A lot of the water after it rains, ends up in the oceans, and those regulations in place help us by protecting ourselves, our surrounding community, and our cultural and natural resources.


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