County Executive Matt Meyer announced July 11 that New Castle County’s 2019 Clean Stream Champion and Great Schools Clean Streams environmental education campaigns engaged a record number of residents who pledged to act to keep our streams and waterways clean.

Both campaigns were sponsored by GreeNCC, an initiative launched in 2018 by Meyer to enlist residents to protect our natural resources and to lead by example through eco-friendly practices and sound environmental policies within county government.

“Thank you to the more than 16,000 residents who have joined our campaign this year to create a cleaner greener New Castle County,” said Meyer. “Through our GreeNCC initiative we have demonstrated that simple actions by individuals across our communities to protect our ecosystem can have an impact in reducing water pollution and sustaining our environment.”

New Castle County’s Clean Stream Champion scavenger hunt generated 481 submissions from residents who posted eco-friendly photos related to water quality on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #CleanStreamChampion. The contest, which ended in late June, encouraged residents to follow five easy practices at home and in their communities to improve water quality:

— “Scoop the Poop” by collecting pet waste;

— “Garden for Water and Wildlife” by using chemical-free fertilizers;

— “Let Only Rain Down The Drain” by keeping trash and debris out of stormwater drains;

— “Reduce” household chemical usage by purchasing organic cleaning supplies; and

— “Cease the Grease” by disposing of cooking grease in the trash and not down the drain.

Every clean stream champion is receiving a specially-designed postcard embedded with native wildflower seeds that can be planted in a flowerbed or garden. Additionally, each submission was entered into a random drawing for one of eleven prizes. Kelly Marvain, of Wilmington, was the grand prize winner, receiving a two-person kayak package. Ann Williams, of Newark, and Trey Young, of Wilmington, both won a JBL waterproof bluetooth speaker. Eight residents — Talley Sieglen, of Middletown; Lisa Lerch, of New Castle; and Emily Inzerillo, Caleb Melvin, Kaila Suarez, Wara Karim, Lorie Hauff and Javon Spencer Sr., of Wilmington — each received a package of environmentally-friendly household cleaning products.

A record 16,412 residents participated in the Great Schools Clean Streams environmental education campaign by pledging to protect the environment by properly disposing of used cooking grease and throwing it in the trash. Pouring cooking fats, oils and grease down the drain and into the county’s wastewater treatment system is a leading cause of sewer overflows which pollute waterways and cause environmental harm. Through public outreach like the Great Schools Clean Streams campaign and regular monitoring and cleaning, New Castle County has reduced backups and overflows in the state’s largest wastewater treatment system by 40% in the past two years.

Residents participated in Great Schools Clean Streams by completing an online pledge and assigned their pledge to the New Castle County public, charter or private school of their choice. Children and youth under the age of 18 participated by signing pledge posters at their schools. Schools that collected the most pledges won cash awards to purchase classroom materials and to support school projects. This year’s participation comfortably beat the previous record of 15,078 pledges in 2018. This year’s winning schools are:

— Schools with 600 or more students: first place, $1,250 award, Olive B. Loss Elementary School; second place, $750 award, Cab Calloway School for the Arts; and third place, $500 award, Odyssey Charter School.

— Schools with 300-599 students: first place, $1,250 award, First State Montessori Academy; second place, $750 award, St. Elizabeth School; and third place, $500 award, Christ The Teacher Catholic School.

— Schools with fewer than 300 students: first place, $1,250 award, Saint Peter The Apostle Catholic School; second place, $750 award, All Saints Catholic School; and third place, $500 award, Albert Einstein Academy.

Additionally, 10 schools with 50 or more pledges were chosen through a random drawing for $250 Wild Card Prizes. They are First State School, Brandywine Springs School, Newark Charter School, Forest Oak Elementary School, May B. Leasure Elementary School, Tower Hill School, Bunker Hill Elementary School, St. Mary Magdalen School, Maple Lane Elementary School and Tarbiyah School.

GreeNCC is managed by New Castle County’s Department of Public Works, which collaborates with state and local partners to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff and improve water quality and maintains the state’s largest wastewater treatment system with more than 1,800 miles of sanitary sewer lines across New Castle County that take in 50 million gallons each day.

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