What Are All Those Markings On Our Streets?

On August 16 and 17th, youth from GroundWork Somerville’s Green Team and GreenRoots Eco Crew descended on local neighborhoods, sporting spray paint, orange vests and stencils. While this might seem suspicious, they were there to assist with a water quality education campaign with the Mystic River Watershed Association, City of Chelsea and City of Somerville by stenciling stormdrains.

In this public awareness initiative, the youth groups and community volunteers painted a stenciled message: “Dump No Waste – Drains to River” on approximately 125 stormdrains in four languages: English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese.  The Ten Hills Neighborhood and Mystic Housing Area in Somerville was targeted, as was Washington Ave. and Garfield Ave. in Chelsea.


This stenciling project aims to make people aware of the fact that stormdrains in these areas of Somerville and Chelsea are not connected to a public sewer. As a result, anything that flows into them will not be sent to Deer Island to be treated, but drains directly to the Mystic River or Chelsea Creek. Under no circumstances should anyone dump anything down stormdrains! In addition, it is important for people to realize that all products that are applied to their lawn and gardens also have the potential to be carried down the stormdrain by rainwater, also known as stormwater runoff.