With just a few changes to normal day-to-day lives, citizens and homeowners can make a positive impact on our local streams and the San Pedro River by reducing stormwater pollution runoff. Simple activities, like washing our cars, disposing of household waste, and using environmentally-friendly gardening methods can greatly contribute to improving the quality of drinking and recreational water. These actions can provide enjoyable returns like pristine water bodies for drinking and fishing.
What is stormwater?
Rainfall or snowmelt that flows over impervious surfaces like parking lots, streets, and rooftops. It is collected by storm sewer systems and is eventually discharged to streams, reservoirs, washes, and rivers.
What is stormwater pollution?
When stormwater flows over land, it can pick up trash, chemicals, dirt, waste, and oil products. These pollutants are deposited into water resources used for swimming, fishing, and drinking.
What are the impacts of stormwater pollution?
- Dirt or sediment can silt in navigation channels, destroy fish spawning habitat, and cloud waters, stunting aquatic vegetation growth.
- Algae blooms from excess nutrients can deprive water of oxygen, killing fish.
- Disease-causing bacteria from sewage overflows and malfunctioning septic systems can contaminate drinking water.
- Improperly disposed pesticides, insecticides, paint, solvents, and motor oils can pollute waters and are toxic to waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife.
- Humans can get sick from consuming the fish or other wildlife that come into contact with contaminated waters.
- Polluted stormwater runoff can degrade water quality at public drinking water reservoirs, causing increased treatment costs.
How can I help prevent stormwater pollution?
You can make simple changes in four key areas: lawn and garden care, auto care, pet waste cleanup, and septic system maintenance.
- Limit use of pesticides and fertilizers, and follow manufacturer's instructions.
- Compost leaves and grass clippings instead of sweeping them into the streets or storm drains.
- Don't over water your lawn.
- Washing your car and degreasing auto parts at home can send detergents to the storm drains.
- Wash cars on the lawn or take them to a car wash that recycles the wash water.
- Dispose of used oil and antifreeze at local recycling centers.
Pet Waste Cleanup
- Pet waste is unsanitary and is a source of bacteria and excess nutrients to local streams. When not cleaned up, it can pose a further health problem by attracting rats and other unwanted pests.
- Pick up after your pets and bag and dispose of waste in the trash or flush it down the toilet. (Please do not flush kitty litter or soiled bedding material for small animals.)
Septic System Maintenance
- Malfunctioning septic systems overflow and waste can be picked up by stormwater runoff.
- Bacteria and viruses from improperly treated waste can pollute drinking water.
- Service your septic system regularly, and pump it out every 3-5 years.
- Do not dispose of hazardous household products in the toilet.
Properly draining pools, spas, and fountains
The chemicals used to keep water features clear and chemicals balanced for people can harm plants and animals when the water enters the storm water system. Find out how to safely drain your pool.