Blame for water pollution has often been directed toward “point” sources, such as industry, but these sources can be easily identified and corrected.
The major threat to the quality of our streams and rivers today comes from “non-point” sources such as our homes, pet waste, automobiles, lawn chemicals, litter, construction and agriculture. “Non-point source pollution” refers to pollution that cannot be traced back to a single source.
How can you help?
Washing your car:
Washing in the street or on your driveway washes detergents, mud, oil and grease directly into the stormwater system. Use a service station car washing bay or car wash that recycles water.
Cars that are not maintained properly leak oil onto streets and into storm drains. Illegally-dumped oil into storm drains is also a problem, since one quart of oil can contaminate 2 million gallons of water! Never put oil down the drain or in the gutter, but instead take oil to a recycling center (see locations that accept oil). Proper car maintenance will help to avoid fluid leaks.
Part of being a responsible pet owner is picking up after pets. Pet waste increases the level of bacteria in our waterways and makes our water unsafe for swimming, recreation or drinking. Carry a biodegradable plastic bag and put the droppings in the trash. Learn more with this fun “It’s Your Doodie” brochure. (pdf download)
Painting materials harm wildlife and aquatic plants and creates an eyesore. Put sawdust, kitty litter or shredded newspaper in the can to soak up unused paint, double-bag it and put the can in the trash. If using oil-based paints, keep paint, turpentine and solvents well clear of gutters and drains. When using acrylic paint, clean brushes over grass or soil. Clean out brushes in a toilet or bathtub.
As leaves and clippings decay, they use up oxygen. Soil not only clouds waterways, it silts them up. In both cases, the resulting lack of oxygen harms aquatic plants and animals. Sweep your gutters and driveways regularly and put the sweepings in the compost or on the garden as mulch. Compost or mulch lawn clippings and leaves. Cover piles of soil, sand or mulch to stop them washing into drains. Build barriers around your garden beds to contain the soil and fertilizers. Grass or replant areas of exposed soil.
Storm Drain Stenciling:
Most citizens don’t know the adverse effects of their actions. Your family, neighborhood group or other organization can conduct an easy Storm Drain Stenciling activity by calling 770-904-3505. You will stencil a “No Dumping” message on drains in your area to remind citizens that water quality and aquatic life are directly affected by waste going down storm drains.