Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith will join the Highline Artists Guild and the Highline Nurses Club to install “Grate Mates” throughout the Highline area in honor of Earth Day.

Smith and the community groups will begin installing Grate Mates at 3:30 on Friday, April 21 at the following sites: the Burien Value Village, Burien Honda, Burien QFC, Lamonts, and Highline Hospital.

“The Grate Mates project is a great community effort to take small steps that really go a long way towards protecting the environment,” Smith said. “I’m pleased to be organizing a group of citizen activists to do our part on Earth Day.”

Grate Mates are special cloth filters that are installed in parking lot storm drains by volunteers. Grate Mate filters catch oil and other polluted runoff before it gets into local streams. Pollution from grease, oil, and litter of a road or parking lot is called nonpoint-source pollution and is largely unregulated. Scientists estimate nonpoint-source pollution accounts for 80 percent of the degradation of U.S. waters. Grate Mates trap up to three-quarters of this pollution.

“It’s an especially important time in the Pacific Northwest to aggressively fight watershed pollution,” explained Smith. “With the listing of the Puget Sound chinook salmon under the Endangered Species Act, we should all do what we can to protect water quality and critical salmon habitat.”

Although Earth Day has provided a special incentive to install Grate Mates in parking lots around the state, Project CPR, the sponsor of Grate Mates, emphasize that the project should be ongoing. In fact, Grate Mates was designed to be a fundraising opportunity for youth groups. Interested parties should call (206) 285-3888.