Steamboat Springs More than 70 fish are about to make an appearance on Lincoln Avenue.
Yampatika, a local educational organization concerned with the natural world, is seeking volunteers to help stencil pictures of fish onto all 70-plus storm drains in the downtown area. The images of fish will be accompanied by the words "dump no waste, drains to stream."
Yampatika's Deb Fuller said the stencils are part of an educational effort to alert people to the fact that the city's storm drains discharge directly into the Yampa River.
Public works director Jim Weber said the city's storm drain system is a hybrid using both piped storm drains on Lincoln Avenue and a ditch system elsewhere. Weber confirmed the water that is collected by the storm drains after a rain shower, or when snow melts, goes directly into the river.
Weber said Steamboat, as a city of just fewer than 10,000 people, is on the cusp of coming under federal regulations administered by the state Health Department to deal with issues of pollution resulting from storm drain runoff.
Those regulations could require the city to install traps on catch basins to remove floating debris among other things.
The regulations would probably also require an educational effort not unlike what Yampatika is planning, Weber said.
The educational effort might have come into play in a recent case of individuals who were contacted while dumping paint down a storm drain on Ninth Street. Weber said the people involved were under the impression the storm drains led to the wastewater treatment plant.
Fuller said the stencil program is an attempt to reduce the amount of non-point source pollutants going into the river. Such pollutants can range from cigarette butts to herbicides and fertilizers.
"By stenciling this warning, we hope to illustrate the connection between humans, their actions and the pollution we see every day in and along the Yampa River," Fuller said. "We also hope to promote environmental stewardship."
Fuller said a grant from the city that is part of its overall funding support for Yampatika is bolstering the stenciling project.
The stenciling project is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. People interested in helping can call 871-9151.