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Do Your Part to Prevent Pollution

Sep 23, 2016

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Original Aricle from Tallahassee.com

{Direct rain gutter to gravel, rocks and other permeable materials that allow water to percolate into the ground.(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)}

Lawn sprinklers soaking the driveway. Yard waste blown in the street.

These everyday events seem harmless, yet can add up to significant sources of water pollution.

When rain or irrigation water falls on pavement, it picks up grass clippings, chemicals, silt and other pollutants. This runoff flows through streets, gutters and storm systems before eventually reaching Florida’s waterways.

There are two main categories of water pollution: point source and nonpoint source. Point sources refer to discharges that enter a waterway from a single source, such as industry and sewage treatment plants, which are regulated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

But nonpoint source pollution is difficult to identify and treat. The many sources of nonpoint pollution from a home can include:

  • Fluid leaks from vehicles and lawn equipment.

  • Runoff of pesticides and fertilizers from lawns and gardens.

  • House and lawn chemicals stored in leaky containers or exposed to the weather.

  • Soil erosion from bare spots in the landscape.

Although a single home may contribute minor amounts of contaminants, the combined effect from all households is a leading source of water pollution.

When stormwater runoff carries grass clippings, fertilizers and pet wastes into waterbodies, excessive growth of algae and aquatic weeds can result, harming water quality and wildlife habitat.

There are many steps we can all take to limit nonpoint pollution:

  • Never dump anything down storm drains. Remove trash and yard waste from street gutters before it is washed into stormwater systems.

  • Follow label directions carefully for fertilizers and pesticides, and do not apply if rain is in the forecast. Sweep up spills.

  • Direct irrigation water to the landscape, not to paved surfaces.

  • Drain pool water and direct downspouts away from paved surfaces.

  • Use mulch, bricks, gravel or other porous surfaces for walkways, patios and driveways.

  • Pick up pet waste and deposit it in the trash.

  • Wash your car in the grass, not on the driveway. Better yet, take it to the car wash, which is subject to wastewater regulations.

  • Sweep up and dispose of construction debris like concrete and mortar.

A new video explains how the city of Tallahassee is responding to the challenges of stormwater pollution. Watch it at https://youtu.be/3ABgH9aBkRg.

Pollution Prevention Tips

Preventing pollution results in less waste to treat or control, so it’s an effective and inexpensive approach to protecting human health and the environment.

Pollution Prevention Week is celebrated nationally the third week of September. How can you help?

  • Choose housecleaning products that are nontoxic, biodegradable and free of phosphate, bleach and dyes. Look for do-it-yourself green-cleaning recipes that use lemon juice, vinegar or baking soda.

  • Follow label directions for use and storage of drain openers, tile cleaners, paint and other household products, which contain potentially harmful chemicals. Buy only what you need.

  • Don’t overfertilize or overwater your lawn. Never fertilize within 10 feet of a ditch, stream or other waterway.

  • Use the nine principles of Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM to create a yard that protects water, attracts wildlife and reflects the state’s natural beauty. Learn more at http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu.

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