Heavy Rain and our Waterbodies: What YOU Can Do to Help

Although we seem to be drying out a little, the north Georgia area had an abundance of rain over the past few weeks.  This was especially true in the Chattahoochee river basin.  While we welcome the rain and a full Lake Lanier, heavy rains can cause some concerns – especially when this stormwater carries pollution into our lakes, rivers and streams.

As the stormwater runoff washes down to waterbodies, it picks up everything that is on the ground.  While trash is one of the most visible items, there are other types of pollution that can also make their way to water when it rains.  Here are helpful tips for keeping some of these items out of waterbodies:

  • Pick up Pet Waste (and Encourage Others to Do the Same): Animal waste can contribute to bacteria buildup, so do your part to pick up after your pets.
  • Check Your Septic System: Another contributor to bacteria and nutrient pollution in our waterbodies is runoff from leaking or overflowing septic systems. If you have a septic system, have it checked and maintained regularly to make sure it is functioning properly and not contributing to a larger problem.
  • Maintain Your Vehicle: Oil leaking from your car makes its way to our waterways, so make repairs as soon as you notice a leak.  Recycle waste oil.  Don’t pour it onto the ground or into a storm drain.
  • Take Care With Your Lawn: We all love a green and pest-free lawn.  Overuse of fertilizer and pesticides means the excess washes into waterways.  Follow label directions to not only protect our water resources, but also save money by using the proper amount for your lawn.
  • Only Rain in the Drain: Storm drains are not part of the sanitary sewer system in Gwinnett County and do not lead the water treatment facilities. Any water, or pollution, that enters a storm drain will drain into our waterways.

Other things you can do to protect our waterbodies:

  • Participate in Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Cleanup Events: Both Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful host a series of water-focused cleanup events, including Great Gwinnett Wetlands, CRK Watershed Cleanup Events and Sweep the Hooch.
  • Adopt-A-Stream: This volunteer water quality program enables citizens to collect baseline water quality data to both observe the conditions of our local streams and become more aware of pollution and water quality issues. If you notice a lot of litter while you’re there, gather a group for a mini-cleanup event.
  • Adopt-A-Road: It’s important to keep our roadways litter-free to reduce pollution. You, your company, your family, your church or civic group can adopt a stretch of road to patrol at regular intervals through cleanup events. Each adopted section of road will be marked with two signs with your group’s name.

“The biggest threat to our waterways nowadays is not point source pollution, where one factory is dumping something in the stream,” said Sumner Gann, Program Manager for Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful. “Instead, it’s nonpoint source pollution, where all of these little things on the land can concentrate in a waterway because the rain washes everything like yard waste, fertilizer from overfertilized lawns, oil from leaking cars and animal waste down the storm drains, leading directly to the nearest stream. That means that your individual actions of picking up after your pet and removing litter can make a huge difference.”