What You Can Do To Prevent Pollution
Whether you live in the city or the country...whether your home is large or small, there is something you can do to improve water quality.
- Collect oil and other automotive products preferably for recycling, or tightly seal and wrap them for proper disposal.
- Wash cars on the lawn, where soapy water can't quickly run toward the nearest storm sewer, picking up other pollutants as it goes. Wash your car with non-toxic, low phosphate soap and use water sparingly. Ideally, take your car to a car wash where water goes to a waste-water treatment plant.
- Keep cars tuned up and in good operating condition. Check for drips and repair leaks immediately to keep nuisance oils off pavement. Better yet, walk, bike or take the bus.
- Monitor fuel use from any underground gas and oil tanks to make sure they are not leaking.
- Clean up pet wastes from which nutrients and bacteria could be washed in BMPS, lakes and streams.
- Direct downspouts away from foundations to planting beds and lawns where water can safely soak into the ground. Install a rain garden.
- Conservatively use salt in winter. Substitute with sand, or chip ice away.
- Sweep your walks and driveways instead of hosing them down.
- Buy no-phosphate cleaners and detergents. Phosphates act as a fertilizer and increases algae and aquatic weeds in wet basins. When these pants die, they rob the water of oxygen and fish may die.
Consider a Rain Garden
Rain gardens are just what they sound like... gardens that soak up rain water, mainly from your roof, but also from your driveway and lawn. They are landscaped areas planted with wildflowers and other native vegetation to replace areas of lawn. The gardens fill with a few inches of water and allow the water to slowly filter into the ground rather than running off to storm sewers. Compared to a patch of conventional lawn, a rain garden allows about 30 percent more water to soak into the ground.
Holding back the runoff helps prevent pollutants such as fertilizers from washing off your yard, into storm sewers and eventually into nearby streams and lakes. By reducing the amount of water that enters the local storm drain systems, rain gardens also can reduce the chances for local flooding, as well as bank and shoreline damage where storm drains empty into streams and lakes.