Dec. 11 2018 12:00 AM

A hobby enjoyed by people around the world is used as a means of educating the public about stormwater management.

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A stormwater agency in one Illinois county has chosen a unique method of teaching residents about stormwater best management practices. It’s doing it through geocaching, according a story in the Daily Herald (Chicago).

Some definitions are in order. Stormwater BMPs are things like bioswales, retention ponds and fabric storm drain filters, also called “witch’s hats,” because they resemble the iconic pointed hats installed point down. BMPs are designed to improve the quality of water in local lakes and streams by preventing or reducing water pollution due to stormwater runoff.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational hobby. Participants use the Global Positioning System on a mobile device to find containers buried at precise latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates all over the world.

A typical geocache consists of a small waterproof container such as an ammo box. Inside, there will be a logbook and sometimes a pen or pencil, and various small low-value trading trinkets or toys left by finders. The finder signs and dates the log to prove that he found it.

He may take one of the trinkets that are inside the container, as long as he replaces it with another of his own choosing. After signing the log, the geocache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. After submitting proof to whomever hid the geocache, he receives a metal token called a geocoin as a reward.

The Lake County Stormwater Management Commission has hidden four geocaches. Each one contains information about different BMPs and a question about them that must be answered before the group or individual who found the geocache can receive LCSMC’s geocoin. The four geocaches also contain further instructions and GPS coordinates of where the next geocache may be found.

The geocaches are located on or are adjacent to bike and walking trails in Lake County nature and forest preserves, a village park and a county facility. The distance from the first geocache to the final one is approximately 26 miles.