Reducing Pollutants in Runoff

Stormwater is unavoidable, but its effects can be reduced by keeping harmful chemicals and materials out of the runoff.  This section reviews potential sources of contamination and offers ways to minimize them.  Then fill out the assessment table to help identify stormwater risks on your property.

Reducing Pollutants in Runoff

Are any car or truck wastes being carried away by stormwater?
Oil stains on your driveway and outdoor spills of antifreeze, brake fluid, and other automotive fluids are easily carried away by a rainstorm.  Routine maintenance can prevent your car from leaking and help identify potential leaks.  Pans, carpet scraps and matting can also catch drips.  Never dump used oil, antifreeze, or gasoline down a storm drain, in a ditch, or on the ground.  These wastes will end up in a nearby lake or stream, or they may pollute your drinking water.

Are household products stored outside the reach of stormwater?
Most households store lawn and garden products like weed killers, insect killers, and fertilizers.  If stormwater or floodwater reaches these products, it can transport them into surface water and possibly you well.  Pool chemicals, salt for water softeners, and a wide variety of other chemical products can also cause trouble if they are washed away.  Keeping such products in waterproof containers and storing them up high and out of the potential path of runoff or floods is important.

Do you use and handle chemicals safely?
When mixing chemicals, try to do so within a washtub so spills will be contained.  If you spill chemicals, act quickly to contain and clean up the spill.  Using more pesticides or fertilizers than you need only invites problems.  Timing of applications is important.  Do not apply pesticides if rain is expected within twenty-four hours.

How are animal wastes kept from becoming a pollution problem?
The risk of stormwater contamination increases if pet wastes are allowed to accumulate in animal pen areas or left on sidewalks, streets, or driveways where runoff can carry them to storm sewers.  Droppings may either be buried or wrapped and put in the garbage for disposal.

Are yard and garden wastes kept out of stormwater?
If left on sidewalks, driveways or roads, grass clippings and other yard wastes will wash away, clogging storm sewers.  Sweep clippings back onto the grass, and compost leaves and garden wastes on your property to recycle nutrients.  (See the Composting Guidelines in the Recycling page on the website.)

Assessment 1 – Reducing pollutants in runoff
Use the table located in the link below to rate your stormwater pollution risks.  Your goal is to lower your risks.  Use the action checklist to record medium and high-risk practices and use these recommendations to make plans to reduce your risks.

Attached Document or FileAssessment 1 Reducing pollutants in runoff
Attached Document or FileCar Washes and Your Stream: Can You Be Both Clean and Green?
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