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A Helpful Guide for Easy Stormwater Pollution Prevention

Feb 12, 2016

What is Stormwater Pollution?

Our creeks should be clean and healthy. But everything the rain collects on its way out to sea has caused them to become polluted!

Stormwater pollution is rainwater runoff containing chemicals, dirt, bacteria and trash, which can harm fish and wildlife populations, kill native vegetation, foul drinking water supplies, and make recreational areas unsafe and unpleasant.

Why Does It Matter? It Affects Everyone!

We can all change the environment – either positively or negatively. Preventing stormwater pollution ensures enough clean water for your family now and into the future. Clean water allows us to safely enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and crabbing. Healthier creeks allow crabs, oysters and fish to thrive and where birds and land animals can enjoy the crabs, oysters and fish as well!

What Kind of Pollution Does Rain Collect When it Falls to the Ground?

Almost everything!

Things we can see:

  • Plastic Bottles

  • Aluminum Cans

  • Plastic Bags

  • Cigarette Butts

  • Animal waste

  • Leaves & grass clippings

  • Oil leaking from a car

  • Chemicals dumped in the street

  • Dirt (also known as sediment) from a bare spot in a yard, the roof of a building, a construction job, or even the back of your car

Things we can’t see:

  • Nitrogen and phosphorus in the fertilizer on the yard

  • The millions of bacteria in a single pile of dog waste

  • The heavy metals like copper, zinc, lead and mercury that come from motor vehicles

  • Even heat from rooftops and asphalt which affects sensitive plants and animals

What Can You Do?

  • Fertilize only in the fall and follow all the labels. Sweep stray fertilizer into your yard.

  • Use chemicals properly and recycle unused portions.

  • Be the person your dog thinks you are — pick up after your pet and throw it in the trash.

  • Don’t leave dirt exposed in your yard. Plant grass or mulch it. Tarp and surround with silt fence during a construction project.

  • Wash your car at a car wash that recycles its water, or on your grass (not your driveway).

  • Properly maintain your car to prevent leaking fluids.

  • Mow your grass and leaves on “mulch” for an added fertilizer on your yard or compost them.

  • Recycle and throw trash in the can.

  • Pitch in! Don’t walk past a piece of litter – pick it up!

  • Plant a tree. Trees absorb water and pollutants, prevent erosion, create oxygen, and beautify the neighborhood.

  • Plant a rain garden. It’s a beautiful way to slow down stormwater while capturing pollutants.

  • Make or buy a rain barrel – it will help capture dirt from your roof, and it provides free water for use in your garden!

For more information contact William Fabey, Environmental Division, NAVFAC Washington, PWD South Potomac, 301-744-2275

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