This month, more than 500 volunteers held litter cleanups across Liberty County because they know that clean waterways matter.
We need to do more than cleanups, though. Every day, we make choices that affect our waterways. Here are some facts from the Kitsap Stormwater Consortium and Puget Sound Water Quality; by following these suggestions, we can minimize our impact on our water.
•Fact No. 1: Water from rain, storm drains and ditches flows directly into streams and larger waterways with little or no treatment. Storm drains and ditches are different than sewers; they are not connected to a treatment plant.
• Fact No. 2: We all live in a watershed. What you do on your land affects streams, even if you don’t live on one.
• Fact No. 3: Small amounts of contaminants from all over the land can add up and cause water pollution. Yes, even the little things matter.
•Fact No. 4: Failing septic systems pollute. Untreated wastewater from failing septic systems can contaminate nearby streams, drinking water sources and bays. Inspect your septic system every three to five years.
•Fact No. 5: Soap from washing your car at home pollutes. Soap and dirt from washing your car can flow through storm drains and ditches and end up in our streams untreated. Wash your car at a commercial car wash, on the grass or on a graveled area.
• Fact No. 6: Oil and antifreeze that leak from cars pollutes. When it rains, rainwater picks up oil, antifreeze and other pollutants and eventually carries them to our local waters. Put a drip tray under your car to catch car leaks and fix car leaks promptly.
•Fact No. 7: Garden and lawn chemicals pollute. Common pesticides and fertilizers can end up in neighboring streams. Pull weeds by hand. Avoid use of chemicals: if necessary, use sparingly and as directed. Call for information on alternatives to weed and bug killers.
•Fact No. 8: Cleaners and chemicals used or disposed of outside can end up in our waters. Look for natural alternatives to household cleaners and chemicals.
•Fact No. 9: Pet waste pollutes our water. Scoop, double bag and throw pet waste in the garbage.
•Fact No. 10: Waste from livestock pollutes water. When it rains, rainwater can carry harmful bacteria from livestock waste to streams and provide unwanted fertilizer in streams. Compost livestock waste and fence livestock away from stream access.
•Fact No. 11: If you hose down your driveway, the water carries all the pollutants on it to the streams. Sweep your driveway and walkways instead of hosing down. Use apple vinegar to kill moss on driveways and walkways.
•Fact No. 12: Lawn clippings and yard waste in ravines and ponds can become unwanted fertilizer for streams. Too much plant growth in streams can use up all the oxygen and kill fish and aquatic life. Compost your yard waste. Use a mulching mower.
•Fact No. 13: Too much soil in runoff can pollute. Plant vegetation on or cover bare ground, and cover piles of soil.
•Fact No. 14: Untreated sewage from boating is a significant risk to human health and wildlife. While boating, treat and dispose of your sewage properly. Pump your waste-holding tanks at pump-out facilities. Properly maintain marine sanitation-device hoses to prevent clogging.
•Fact No. 15: Toxic chemicals, oils, cleaners, and paint scrapings from boat maintenance can make their way into the water. Complete any maintenance involving paints, solvents or sanding with the boat pulled out of and away from the water. Use less toxic or nontoxic cleaning alternatives. Use oil-absorbent pillows or pads in your bilge to soak up oil. Use anti-fouling paints with caution and according to directions.
•Fact No. 16: Contractors and service people should properly dispose of chemicals and water used during their work. Make sure contractors you hire dispose of chemicals properly. Request use of nontoxic products.
•Fact No. 18: Litter can end up in our storm drains, ditches, and streams. Throw all litter in appropriate trash cans. Keep litter out of truck beds and secure items so they aren’t blown out. Recycle and reuse items whenever possible.
Upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events
Nov. 15 — America Recycles Day
Nov. 17— Recycle It! Fair, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Liberty County Health Department.
For more information, call 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .