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Thursday, June 27, 2019

You can help protect our waterways

Our daily activities have the potential to affect water quality if we don’t make good choices.

Storm drains are connected directly to our waterways; so anything that ends up on the driveway, alley, roof or sidewalk eventually will be carried by rain water and/or snow/ice melt to a water body such as Standley Lake or Big Dry Creek.

When water from irrigation, precipitation or runoff washes over yards and streets, it collects fertilizers, pesticides, soaps, oils, pet waste and other pollutants. This runoff flows into storm drains and ultimately ends up polluting the nearest stream, lake or wetland.

The nutrients from the fertilizer, pesticides and soap can cause excess algae to grow in our waterways. Applying too much fertilizers and pesticides can result in runoff that carries toxic levels of chemicals, or excessive nutrients, into our waterways. Too much algae harms water quality. 

As algae decay, they use up oxygen in the water that fish and other wildlife need. This pollution impacts aquatic life, wildlife and people who recreate and fish.

The results are often unpleasant odors, taste and poor aesthetics which can cause health problems in humans and livestock.

Here’s what you can do to help

  • Pick up pet poop - Pet waste can get into storm drains and spread bacteria
  • Fix the oil leak - Car leaks can spread oil into the water supply.  One pint of oil can make an oil slick larger than a football field.
  • Direct your downspouts - Ensure downspouts are pointed toward the lawn or plants, not the sidewalk.
  • Sweep - Sweep up dirt and debris.  Dirt on sidewalks and streets wash into the storm drain and pollute our waterways.
  • Compost - Compost and amend soil.  Healthy soil acts as a water filter.
  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly
    • Follow instructions - Read labels on lawn chemicals carefully. Consider hiring a professional applicator.
    • Go natural - Consider compost or natural lawn chemical alternatives. Composting creates natural, slow-release fertilizer and soil-enhancing material.
    • Be aware where you fertilize - Use caution on slopes and lawn edges so fertilizer will not wash into nearby storm drains or waterways.
    • Let fertilizers dry properly - Allow proper drying time for liquid chemicals, and never use lawn chemicals before a heavy rainfall is expected.
  • Use a commercial car wash - A commercial car wash is more water efficient and does not send soapy water down the driveway and into the storm drain. Car wash water can contain fluids from engines, heavy metals from brake wear, and phosphorous from the soap and dirt. At commercial car washes, the water is sometimes reused and is always discharged to a treatment system.
  • Please don’t blow your grass clippings and leaves into the street
  • Please don’t place landscaping materials or roll-off dumpsters on the street

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