Keeping Stormwater Clean

Keeping Stormwater Clean

We all need to do our part to protect and improve the quality of water in the ocean, lakes and wetlands. Rainwater that runs off of our yards and streets flows into storm drains and directly into the nearest body of water without treatment.

Through simple actions in our daily lives, we can help keep pollutants out of the stormwater and keep our local waterways clean and healthy.

What You Can Do

Car Washing – Car wash water contains road grime, oil and grease, heavy metals and soap. When you wash your car in your driveway or in the street, polluted wash water flows directly into the nearest storm drain. From the storm drain, this polluted runoff flows directly into our waterways without treatment. Wash your car at a commercial car wash. They are required to send polluted wash water to the sanitary sewer system, which cleans and treats water. Most car washes also reuse water several times before sending it to the sewer.

Pet Waste – Pet waste contains harmful organisms like E.coli, Giardia and roundworms which can be transmitted to people and pets if not cleaned up. Pets, children who play outside and adults who garden are at the greatest risk of infection. When it rains, pet waste gets washed down the storm drain and into the nearest waterway. The organisms in dog waste can harm water quality. Children or pets that drink or play in the water can become sick.

Luckily, the solution to the problem is quite simple. All you have to do is:  1. Scoop your dog’s waste, 2. Put it in a bag, 3. Put it in the trash. Scooping on walks:  Keep a supply of bags near your dog’s leash. Use a bag dispenser that can be clipped to the leash. You can also use old newspaper, sandwich or bread bags. Scooping in the backyard:  Use your poop-scooping tool of choice and bag your dog’s waste.

Yard Care – Our yards can enhance the beauty of our homes, be a source of pride and be a great place for relaxing. But in taking care of our lawns and gardens, we often use water inefficiently, produce a lot of yard waste and overuse chemicals that are bad for the environment and our families’ health. By making some simple changes in how we care for our yards, we can have great looking landscapes that area easier to care for and healthier for families, pets, wildlife and our environment. Natural yard care is the practice of working with nature in the maintenance of our yards and gardens. It requires less water, less chemicals and less time than conventional yard care.

Start with these 5 steps:

1. Build healthy soil with compost and mulch

2. Plant right for your site

3. Practice smart watering

4. Think twice before using pesticides

5. Practice natural lawn care

Vehicle Maintenance – Most of the toxic pollution entering waterways comes from small motor oil drips from cars and trucks. Stopping leaks at their source is the best way to end the oil damage to our local waterways, wildlife and habitat.

Keep It Clean

Do you change your fluids in your vehicle yourself? Use ground cloths or drip pans beneath your vehicle if you are working on an engine. Collect all used oil in containers with tight fitting lids. Do not mix different engine fluids.

Never dispose of oil or other engine fluids down the storm drain or sink, on the ground or into a ditch.

Use kitty litter to soak up any accidental spills, then sweep it up, put it in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the trash.

Recycle used motor oil; don’t put it in the trash. Many auto supply stores and gas stations will accept used oil for recycling.

Fix oil leaks right away. In the short term, place drip pans or cardboard under your vehicle to prevent oil from polluting our streams.