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Keep Liberty Beautiful: How you can prevent stormwater pollution
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell.

Dr. Karen Bell

Keep Liberty Beautiful

My grandson Bryce visited with me, and on one of our days out, we walked around the ponds at Bryant Commons. He likes going there because he remembers when we helped to create the dog park and playground with the Chamber and Home Depot. As we were walking, he saw some floating litter in the pond, and the conservation went like this: Bryce: Nana, aren’t you Keep Liberty Beautiful?

Nana: Well, I work there.

Bryce: Nana, this is not Keeping Liberty Beautiful. Look at the paper and stuff in the water. You need to do something about this.

Nana: Yes, Bryce, you are right, I will get right on that. Let me tell you how this happens.

As we continued our walk, I explained to him what stormwater pollution was, and I will let you into the conversation because it is crucial that we all know how to prevent stormwater pollution. First, stormwater is water from rain that does not soak into the ground. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas, bare soil, and sloped lawns. As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports animal waste, litter, pesticides, fertilizers, oil and grease, soil, and other potential pollutants. This is according to Environment and Planning source online. The problem is that the rain washes pollutants from streets, construction sites, and land into storm sewers and ditches. Eventually, these empty the polluted stormwater directly into streams, rivers, and ponds, like at Bryant Commons, which results in stormwater pollution.

Polluted stormwater degrades our lakes, rivers, wetlands, and other waterways. Toxic substances from motor vehicles and careless application of pesticides and fertilizers threaten water quality and can kill fish and other water life. Bacteria from animal wastes and improper connections to storm sewer systems can make lakes and waterways unsafe for wading, swimming, and fish consumption. Eroded soil is a pollutant as well. It clouds the waterway and interferes with the habitat of fish and plant life.

Water that flows down driveways, streets, and outside areas into a storm sewer or ditch flows directly to nearby creeks, fish and wildlife habitats, downstream recreational areas, and drinking water supplies. Many types of pollutants find their way into storm drains. Some common pollutants found in storm sewers and creeks include:

• Animal waste • Litter

• Motor oil

• Yard clippings

• Fertilizers and pesticides • Soapy car wash water

• Eroded sediment from construction projects 

It’s important to remember that any surface water runoff, not just rainfall, can run into the storm sewer and collect in the stormwater management system. That’s why we must be careful with what we put into the storm sewers as traces of all this material can end up in the stormwater system and our local waterways.

There are a couple of ways you can prevent stormwater pollution in Liberty County:

 1. Remember: Only rain belongs in the drain! Don’t dump anything down storm drains. Be sure to clear away leaves and debris. 

2. Wash your car over your lawn or gravel. This allows the ground to neutralize the soap and grime from your car rather than sending it directly to our creeks and streams. Use biodegradable or non-toxic soap that is phosphate-free. You can also take your car to a commercial car wash where wastewater is either recycled or treated.

3. Keep your car maintained. Fix any fluid leaks promptly, and make sure to clean up any spills.

4. You can plant a rain garden to absorb stormwater runoff. You can also use a rain barrel to help collect runoff from your roof and gutters to be used on your lawn and garden.

5. Use lawn or garden chemicals sparingly. Choose organic alternatives when possible and check the weather forecast to avoid applying them before a storm.

6. Mow your lawn less often. Try to keep your lawn at least 3 inches in height to minimize weed growth, reduce the need for watering, and decrease the likelihood of pests. Leaving the clippings on the lawn can also help block weeds and retain moisture. Sweep your sidewalks and driveway rather than hosing them down.

7. Plant native, they are low-maintenance plants. They often have more extended root systems, which reduce the amount of chemicals and water needed.

8. Clean up pet waste. Bag up pet waste and dispose of it in the trash to prevent harmful bacteria from washing into local waterways.

All these tips help prevent stormwater pollution from reaching our waterways. You can contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888, email klcb@libertycounty, or visit our website at www.keepliberty, for more tips on how you can prevent stormwater pollution!

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