This week’s rain has been good. Rain is a friend to folks, like us, who live on dirt roads. I hate dust.
Rain also makes flowers grow and grass lush, and helps plants produce stuff to eat.
Unfortunately, the "additives" we put in rain can create problems for waterways. The "additives" are things we create every day by the choices we make; litter, oil leaks, phosphate cleaners, poor septic systems, yard waste, etc. etc. The Environmental Protection Agency calls this "nonpoint source pollution."
You can see where point pollution is generated, like industrial, commercial and municipal facilities. Unfortunately, the most significant dangers to waterways, the nonpoint sources, are far harder to control.
Nonpoint pollution develops mainly in our homes, workplaces and roads, particularly in heavily populated areas. As rainfall or irrigation water moves over and through the ground it picks up and carries natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands and even underground sources of drinking water. It is often referred to as stormwater pollution.
According to the EPA, nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water quality problems. Nonpoint pollution harms drinking water, wildlife and — as we are learning — water sports and seafood fisheries.
Here are 10 ways each of us can minimize nonpoint source pollution:
1. Use lawn and garden chemicals sparingly or use organic alternatives.
2. Choose low-maintenance, native plants that require few chemicals and less watering. There are plenty of beautiful indigenous plants in this region.
3. Don’t dump anything into storm drains. Most lead directly into area waterways.
4. Wash your car on the lawn or gravel, which filter the dirt and soap. Use soaps without phosphates, which remove oxygen from the water. Or go to a car wash that recycles the water.
5. Fix any oil leaks in your car and recycle oil and other car fluids.
6. Clean up after your pets and dispose of their waste in the garbage or flush it down the toilet.
7. Use phosphate-free household cleaners.
8. Keep your septic system maintained to prevent leaks. Have it checked or serviced every three to five years.
9. Sweep driveways and sidewalks instead of hosing them off.
10. Reduce the amount of impervious surfaces around your home. Paving blocks, gravel, brick and natural stone can replace asphalt and concrete. Rain can then drain slowly through these surfaces rather than gushing off hard surfaces.
A reminder: Keep Liberty Beautiful will have its annual Volunteer Appreciation from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at La Quinta Inn in Flemington with our Business After Hours partner, Navy Federal Credit Union and, of course, the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce. The event is to say thank you to our volunteers. If you would like to attend, contact KLB at 912-880-4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday to register.
Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.