SMITHFIELD – Smithfield High School senior Jacob Girard is doing his part to help keep town rivers clean by teaming up with Save the Bay in marking storm drains in the Old County Road neighborhood.
Girard, 17, son of Sarah and Jeremy Girard, marked more than 58 storm drains for his Eagle Scout project this month. He said his project consisted of getting materials from Save the Bay and going out with his troop, Troop 1 Georgiaville, to mark drains with decorative stickers reminding passersby that the drains lead to waterways.
He said he and his troop cleaned off the drains, placed adhesive, and applied the markers to the drains. Girard said he frequents the beaches in the summer, and enjoys fishing at Lincoln Woods. He said maintaining water health in his community is important to him.
“It’s important to me because I think the bay is a nice place and very beautiful. If people pollute it, it makes it less enjoyable,” he said.
Girard said he was not previously aware of the storm drain marking project when he noticed markers while driving down the street one day. He said pollution enters the drains, then empties into the nearest waterways, eventually landing in Narragansett Bay. He said he chose the neighborhood because his troop usually meets in the Old County Road neighborhood and he’s witnessed pollution firsthand.
“We go there so often; we don’t want people polluting,” he said.
July Lewis of Save the Bay said storm drain marking is important because most storm drains lead directly to rivers and the ocean, with very few reaching a water treatment plant first. She added that most people think the drain water is treated first.
“Nope. We want people to remember that they go to a body of water,” Lewis said.
She said the goal of the program is to prevent people from misusing the storm drains to dump garbage and also hazardous waste such as cooking or engine oil. Markers display the number for the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Eco-Depot, 401-942-1430, which offers free household hazardous waste disposal.
Lewis said the best way to prevent incorrect disposal is through prevention, which he said the markers help with greatly. To help Save the Bay with storm drain marking, visit www.savethebay.org.
Girard said he plans to study cybersecurity at the University of Rhode Island after graduating from Smithfield High School this year.
Girard said he’s appreciated his time in the Boy Scouts and that it’s exposed him to new experiences and activities he would not have done otherwise.
“I really like to fish but I hadn’t gone fishing before scouting,” he said as an example.
Girard said the best thing he’s learned in Scouts was how to adapt to whatever life throws are him. He said it was difficult earning merit badges during COVID, but he persevered through commitment.
The valuable thing he’ll take from the Scouts is the friends he’s made along the way.