Posted by Cheryl A. Cuddahy, Sentinel & Enterprise on Jun 26, 2021
(This June 12 story in the Sentinel & Enterprise was written by Cherly A. Cuddahy, editor for community news, who also took the accompanying photos.​​​​​)
The United Nations World Oceans Day, celebrated this [June 8], was set remind us of the major role the oceans have in our everyday life, with the purpose of the day to inform the community of the impact of human actions on the ocean and develop a worldwide movement to protect the environment. In observance of World Oceans Day, the [Rotary Club of Leominster], in partnership with the Leominster Department of Public Works, was busy stenciling storm drains in the city on [June 10] with “Don’t Dump, Drains to River,” to stress the importance of having only clean rainwater flowing into the storm drain system. The group stenciled over 200 drains throughout the city.
“In Leominster, most storm drains flow to the nearest water resource, our many streams, ponds and wetlands with no treatment, what goes in, flows out,” said Kelley Freda, environmental analyst, currently serving on [District 7910's Environmental Action Group]. Notably, the Monoosnock Brook flows into the Nashua River, which ultimately flows north, making its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
The City of Leominster has obtained coverage under the [federal] Environmental Protection Agency for a MS4 Permit (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) as required under the [federal] Clean Water Act, according to Freda. “This permit covers a majority of the city’s stormwater system which is defined by census designated urbanized areas,” Freda said. “In obtaining this permit, the city has told the EPA that only clean water, to the maximum extent practicable, will be discharged from the system to a water source.” There are six minimum control measures that the Leominster Department of Public Works addresses and reports on annually. “This project helps the city meet its requirements of, one, public education and outreach, and two, public involvement and participation,” said Freda.
Shawn Comeau, code enforcer for the City of Leominster’s Department of Public Works, said he was recently approached by [Leominster Rotarian Claire Freda (on left) and daughter Kelley Freda (on right), of the Rotary Club of International Friendship] about working together on the catch-basin stenciling program. “The partnership between the DPW and the Rotary club is a great way to help spread the message of preventing illicit discharges into the stormwater system,” Comeau said. “The [MS4] is a vital part of the city’s role in keeping our waterways clean, [and] this program is one way we can do that.” The City of Leominster will also be able to use this partnership on the MS4 annual report as part of measurable goals for the education and outreach program. “We are grateful for the work that Kelley has put into this and the DPW looks forward to future endeavors with the [Leominster club],” he added.
The [Leominster club] has become involved with this project because protecting the environment has recently been added as the seventh Area of Focus of Rotary International. Stenciling was previously done in 2005 which had been recognized with an award from the [state Department of Environmental Affairs'] Secretary's Advisory Group on [Energy] and Environmental Education.
“The [Leominster club] has made a significant impact on the Leominster community since 1925,” said Claire Freda, past club president, and current publicity chair for the club. “It is estimated that well over [$1] million dollars has been raised through fundraising, donations, grants and special projects.” These funds have been disbursed throughout the community for the past 96 years through scholarships, fuel assistance and many other immediate needs such as education, music and most recently assistance to fire victims to name a few, she said.
For over 50 years, the club has provided flowers in the downtown area through the generosity of sponsors that support the program year after year. The Breakfast for the Bands before the Thanksgiving game has been held annually for years and the Municipal Awards Dinner honoring municipal employees has been held for over 25 years, Claire Freda said. “Our club meets every Monday at noon presently at the Woodblock Conference Room with lunch available from The Fix,” she said. “Anyone interested in becoming part of Rotary is welcome to join us at any time.”
Christine Pelletier, Leominster [club] president, said [her club] is excited to partner with the city for the storm-drain project. “By participating in this activity, we hope to help raise awareness of the dangers to our fragile ecosystems when people improperly dispose of waste in our storm drains,” said Pelletier. “We are honored to work side-by-side with the members of the DPW, our neighbors, families, and friends to help encourage our community to protect the environment and keep Leominster beautiful.”
To learn more on the Leominster club, click here.
For more information, contact Claire Freda, of the Rotary Club of Leominster, at