Social Marketing to Reduce Sanitary Sewer Overflows

Sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) contribute pathogens, nutrients and other contaminants to surface waters across the state. According to the MD Dept. of Environment, between 2005-2015, more than 9,000 SSOs discharged approximately 900 million gallons of raw untreated sewage into MD streams. Of these, 40% were reported to be caused by blockages of grease, rags and other inappropriate material placed into the sanitary sewer system, resulting in nearly 16 million gallons of untreated sewage discharges.

With funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Ridge to Reefs & Lori A. Lilly Environmental Solutions worked with Water Words That Work, the City of Baltimore and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to develop a social marketing campaign to encourage proper disposal of household grease and baby wipes in order to reduce this preventable pollution problem. Over the course of multiple years, we developed and implemented our campaign, a pledge drive conducted at churches and food pantries in the City of Baltimore. In the inaugural year of the campaign, 729 people pledged to properly dispose of grease and wipes. Results from our formative research and pre- and post surveys indicate that grease disposal is a relatively easy behavior to change while wipes disposal will be more challenging.

Please check out our Campaign Guide for information and resources about our project: http://www.ridgetoreefs.org/guide-for-sso-campaign.html