by Matthew Campbell, Town Manager, Town of Kenneth City
The Town of Kenneth City recently partnered with art students from nearby St. Petersburg Christian School to help design water pollution prevention messages to be added to the sides of Town Public Works trucks. The effort is part of a state-wide education campaign being led by municipalities like Kenneth City to promote awareness of the negative effects of water pollution resulting from stormwater runoff. Educational campaigns similar to the one described herein further promote reduced water pollution, and compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Created in 1972 by the Clean Water Act, the NPDES permit program is authorized to State governments by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to perform many permitting, administrative, and enforcement aspects of the program.
The educational messages applied to the sides of two (2) Kenneth City Public Works trucks satisfies NPDES requirements for public education and outreach initiatives, but with a twist. Over the past several years, Town Manager Matthew Campbell observed other Cities and Towns “wrapping” their Urban Forestry, Parks, and Maintenance vehicles with similar educational messages, often including sea turtles, manatees, and trees in their imagery. Rather than utilize an “off the shelf image” commonplace in other communities, or one that included coastal elements not commonly found in Kenneth City, Manager Campbell elected to take slightly different approach. While traveling, Mr. Campbell witnessed one community that used children’s artwork to build awareness of the ill effects of water pollution on the environment. According to Manager Campbell, “there is something unique and special about children’s artwork that is both appealing and eye catching.”
A quick call to Amy Kraus, Principal at St. Petersburg Christian School resulted in several students volunteering to provide sample artwork that focuses on the importance of proper collection and disposal of pet waste. Manager Campbell then worked with Justin Keller, Town Engineer and Mike Mangone at Signarama in Pinellas Park to design a set of images for each vehicle that includes a view of one of the Town’s many freshwater lakes, but integrate the student artwork provided. The resulting images are a collage of children’s educational messages and artwork blended into a freshwater wetland scene. The joint message is a first for Kenneth City, and the greater Pinellas County area. Funding for the vehicle imagery was supplied by Town receipt of a 2018 Stormwater Education Grant from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) and the Florida Department of Education (FDOT).