One Fish, Two Fish… Blue Fish?

What better place than Riverside to conduct a campaign to protect fresh water from pollutants?

And while being from Riverside, MO, the reason Gann Asphalt decided to embark on a volunteer stenciling campaign sure is a nice tie-in. For the last two years people who live in and around Riverside have become accustomed to seeing storm drains stenciled with “Dump No Waste, Drains to Stream” surrounding the blue outline of a fish.

Courtesy of Gann Asphalt, the stenciling is part of the state’s volunteer Stream Team program sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation and Gann Asphalt has been applying the 20-inch x 12-inch stencils at their own expense for two years and is marketing the effort with a “Look Out for the Blue Fish!” promotion.

“People are always looking for ways to dispose of things like paint, pesticides, and engine oil and they frequently use storm drains as disposal sites,” says Brian Gann, co-owner and president of Gann Asphalt. “What they forget is that those storm drains feed into the state’s rivers and lakes. This effort is just a subtle reminder that they need to find other ways to properly dispose of that type of material.”

Started small in 1994 sealcoating residential driveways, Gann Asphalt today handles roughly 200 projects a year and employs 24 people including office staff. Gann says the company generates 50% of sales from paving and repair, 25% from pavement maintenance (cracksealing, sealcoating, striping), and 25% from concrete work.

Gann and co-owner/vice president Darryl “Joe” Abner are avid sportsmen – they even decided to form the business 18 years ago while on a fishing trip – and they decided to join the Stream Team as a way to give something back to the community while protecting the outdoors they enjoy. “My partner and I are avid outdoors men and the idea really struck home with us,” Gann says.

Gann started the stenciling program two years ago with a goal of stenciling 1500 storm drains in the first year. With the support of the Deptartment of Conservation they contacted the city of Riverside, which endorsed the idea, and Gann stenciled about 450 storm drains on city streets that year. They added drains in surrounding communities and some private properties, eventually reaching 1200 before the season ended.

“This year we’re going to hit it strong and really concentrate on our own customers and bring awareness to commercial parking lots,” Gann says. “It doesn’t take us very long, maybe three or four minutes per stencil, and it doesn’t use a lot of paint so it’s not a big effort for us as far as cost goes. But we are getting a lot of good feedback from our customers for it.”

He says the company makes sure to ask permission from property managers in advance and so far all have enthusiastically supported the effort. “It’s interesting to them. Once we explain about it, it clicks,” Gann said. “We have one customer who had a problem with people dumping waste down the drains on his property in the past so it really had an impact with him.”

“It’s good for the environment, good for the properties, and good for the pavement maintenance industry,” Gann says. “There are probably other states out there that do something like this and other contractors who could do it. Being here and doing it in Riverside adds a nice little twist for us.”

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