Storm drains in Fort Frances and Kenora, ON and Rainier and International Falls, MN got a face lift over the past few summers! As part of a binational initiative to raise awareness of water quality stewardship in the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed, these communities came together to place messages beside storm drains that drain directly into the Rainy River or Lake of the Woods.  The message was clear: “Dump No Waste, Drains to River” and “A Healthy Lake Starts Here”. Together, well over 150 storm drains have been painted and a few hundred children haven taken part in painting them.

What goes down the drain, goes to the river or lake and we need to keep things like soaps from car washing, fertilizers, oils, etc. out of these drains. Many communities in Canada and the U.S. have similar stencils or have installed permanent markers.  These projects were a success because partners were willing to donate time, money and materials to make the stencils, buy the road paint and design door hangers to hang on residential doors to let people know about the project.  High school shop class students and private businesses helped make the stencils and school-aged children, along with teachers, applied them.

Partners involved in these three projects included the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association, the cities of Kenora, International Falls and Town of Fort Frances, Riverview Industries, Koochiching Soil and Water Conservation District,  local schools in the communities and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Prior to going out to paint, the students also learned about watersheds and pollution by taking part in an interactive 3D model demonstration. To watch a video on this project, go to: