You might now be asking BUT WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? As the saying goes, “You can be the solution to water pollution!”
Onsite vehicle parking and general site activities generate the potential for leaks and spills that can add pollutants to stormwater runoff.
Clean up spills immediately using dry methods and properly dispose of contaminated cleanup materials. Do not use water during the cleanup.
Properly maintain vehicles to prevent oil, gas, and other discharge from contacting the surfaces they are on, so that contaminants will not be washed into local water bodies when it rains.
Install and maintain oil/water separators.
Do not conduct vehicle service work in uncovered areas.
Wash vehicles only in designated wash areas, using a low phosphate cleaner. Minimize the amount of water that is used for vehicle cleaning.
Properly store all chemicals under cover and where they cannot come into contact with rainfall.
Home Vehicle Care
Washing your personal vehicles and degreasing parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants into the storm sewer system. Dumping vehicle fluids into storm drains has the same result as dumping the materials directly into a body of water.
Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on a pervious surface so the water is filtered into the ground and does not flow down the street and into a storm drain.
Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations. Do not pour used auto fluids into a floor drain, sink, or storm drain.
One quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of drinking water. Recycle used oil and other fluids from your vehicles.
Permeable Pavement – Traditional concrete and asphalt do not allow water to soak into the ground. Permeable pavement systems allow rain and snowmelt to soak through, which decrease stormwater runoff. Permeable pavers reduce runoff, trap sediment, and filter pollutants.
Rain Gardens and Grassy Swales – Specially designed planted areas can provide natural places for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. Rain from rooftops or paved areas can be diverted into these areas rather than into storm drains, allowing the water to slow down, spread out and soak in! This helps to reduce runoff, remove pollutants, and recharge the groundwater basin. Rain gardens allow about 30 percent more water to soak into the ground than a conventional lawn.
Vegetated Filter Strips – Filter strips are areas of native grass or plants created along roadways or streams. When water flows over the strips, the pollutants are trapped in the vegetation and do not enter the nearby water body.
Rain Barrels – Collect rainwater from rooftops in mosquito-proof containers. The water can be used later to water lawn or garden areas.
Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.
Cat feces can contain a protozoan that has been linked to disease in humans and possible death in marine mammals.
Pick up after your pet. Grocery and produce bags will work, and there are many special bags and containers available in pet stores to make this job easier. This will help cut down on the spread of disease carried by the waste and keep neighborhoods clean and healthy. In many areas, picking up dog waste is the law and pet owners disregarding this law can be fined.
Excess fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens can be washed off and pollute local waterways. In addition, yard clippings and leaves can wash into storm drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter as they degrade.
Do not over-water your lawn and vegetation. Consider using drip emitters or a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler where appropriate.
Plant any bare spots in your lawn or garden and cover non-vegetated areas with mulch.
Avoid using pesticides; learn about Integrated Pest Management (IPM). When pesticide use is necessary, use them sparingly and in the recommended amounts. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.
Compost or mulch your yard waste. Do not leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams. Cover piles of dirt or mulch that will be used later for landscaping projects.
Leaky and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by stormwater and discharged into nearby water bodies. Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns.
Inspect your system every three years and pump your tank as necessary (every three to five years).
Do not dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets. Dispose of it at your local household hazardous waste pickup location.