Did you know stormwater runoff is the #1 cause of water pollution in urban areas in the United States? Stormwater runoff occurs when rain hits the ground, runs into storm drains, and then is transported to local streams, lakes, rivers, and other water bodies. Stormwater runoff mostly occurs when rainfall lands on impermeable surfaces, such as roadways and other paved areas, but it can also occur when permeable surfaces, such as lawns and gardens, do not properly soak up the excess water.
Stormwater runoff carries more than just water into waterways. Because stormwater does not first go to a wastewater treatment facility, all the chemicals, trash, debris, and other contaminants swept along with the runoff goes directly into waterways too.
This National Water Quality Month, consider making simple changes in your life that can help ease the burden on your local waterways and the flora and fauna who call them home.
– Pick up after your pets. Pet waste contains harmful bacteria and is high in nitrogen, which reduces the amount of oxygen underwater life needs to survive.
– Use a professional car wash. Professional car washes are required to send their wastewater to a wastewater treatment facility. Water from your at-home wash, including the soaps and other chemicals you use to wash your car, go directly into stormwater drains.
– Point downspouts towards your lawn and garden instead of into your driveway.
– Keep your lawn at an appropriate height. A minimum length of three inches makes your lawn more resistant to drought, healthier, and more able to soak up rain.
– Avoid fertilizers and other lawn chemicals. If you do use chemicals on your lawn, never apply them shortly before a rain event as all the chemicals you just applied will be washed away.