We have seen our share of rain so far this season. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere and there you are stuck of course without an umbrella. I do have to confess I like to walk in a light rain shower, because of the sound the rain makes hitting the streets, the umbrella, and I know it helps things grow. One thing that is a problem when it rains is the litter on the roadways and the stormwater pollution it makes. Stormwater pollution starts with rain water flowing over the ground. Stormwater that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff. Solid surfaces, like driveways, sidewalks and streets, prevent the rain water runoff from easily soaking in the ground. This runoff becomes polluted as it runs along roads, parking lots, roofs, commercial areas, lawns and farms. As the water flows along, it picks up anything in its path, like pollutants such as automotive fluids, fertilizers and pesticides, bacteria, sediments, litter, and pet waste.
So, this runoff leads to significant water way issues. Surface runoff flows directly into local creeks, streams, and waterways or into storm drains or sewers that eventually flow into waterways (rivers, streams, lakes, oceans). Typically there is no process for treatment before these waters enter local waterways. So, the waters that we love to play in, swim in, boat in, and get our drinking water from, becomes contaminated by the debris that joined the stormwater. The noticeable thing about all of this debris is that we can prevent it.
I was reading an article online about “Ten things you can do to prevent stormwater runoff pollution” (https://www.uaex.edu/environment-nature/water/stormwater/nwastormwater/10_things.aspx). The 10 ways listed seem like commonsense, but after reading them, it got me thinking about how people don’t realize what they do impact others. Here is the list:
1. Never dump anything down storm drains or in ditches - Many people wrongly think that storm drains are part of a sanitary sewer system that flow to a wastewater treatment plant. Actually, storm drains are a direct link to local streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. If you need to dispose of something and not sure where to put it, contact your County Extension Office to ask about safe ways to dispose of the materials.
2. Pick up after your pet - Pet waste that is left on streets, sidewalks, yards, or trails near streams can easily wash into area creeks and streams. Pet waste can add harmful bacteria to our water that can make the water unsafe to swim or play in. Always pick up after your pets and dispose of their waste in a trash can or flush it down the toilet!
3. Check your car for leaking fluids and recycle your motor oil - Improper disposal of used oil, which includes oil leaking from cars, contributes significantly to stormwater pollution. The EPA estimates that American households improperly dump about 193 million gallons of used oil every year, or roughly the equivalent of 17 Exxon Valdez oil spills.
4. Don’t litter! Pick up trash you see on the ground (even if it is not yours) and participate in a creek or watershed clean-up! Liberty County our Rivers Alive Cleanup is October 26!
5. Use fertilizer sparingly and sweep driveways and sidewalks after application - Use fertilizers according to your lawn and plant needs and the labeled instructions.
6. Compost yard waste and sweep grass clippings out of street gutters after mowing. Most people don’t think of grass clippings and leaves as possible pollutants but they can when they end up in waterways through our storm drain system.
7. Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces and slow water down - When rain falls on a roof, its momentum increases and gives it more power to wash pollutants into storm drains. By diverting your gutter downspouts to grassy areas, runoff can be slowed and allowed to soak into the soil.
8. Wash your car at a commercial car wash that is plumbed to a treatment plant instead of washing your car on a driveway or street - When you wash your car on the driveway or street the dirt, grease, and soap can wash into storm drains directly to creeks and streams. If you do wash your car at home, do it on grassy or gravel areas that can absorb the water without it washing into the street.
9. Use integrated pest management practices for controlling pests around your home - Use pesticides cautiously. If pesticides are necessary, use only recommended amounts.
10. Vegetate bare spots in your yard and terrace slopes to minimize erosion - Cover bare spots in your yard with mulch or vegetation. Leaving bare soil in your landscape can cause exposed soil to wash away during a rain.
Water pollution is very harmful to humans, animals and water life. The effects can be catastrophic, depending on the kind of chemicals, concentrations of the pollutants and where there are polluted. The main problem caused by water pollution is that it kills organisms that depend on these water bodies. Pollution disrupts the natural food chain as well. Pollutants such as lead and cadmium are eaten by tiny animals. Later, these animals are consumed by fish and shellfish, and the food chain continues to be disrupted at all higher levels, even up to us humans.
Ecosystems (the interaction of living things in a place, depending on each other for life) can be severely changed or destroyed by water pollution.
To find out ways that you can make a difference, check out our website: www.keeplibertybeautiful.org.
Then, contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888 or email@example.com to get involved today.