When it rains, what goes down the storm drain? As rain water flows over yards, driveways and city streets, it picks up pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides, oil from cars, trash and other pollutants. It’s tempting to think that storm water visits the local waste water treatment plant, but in most communities water that goes down the storm drain discharges into lakes and streams without any treatment at all. Polluted rain water can degrade water quality and cause closures of favorite fishing and recreation areas.
Viewer Tip: You can help protect water quality – starting in your own backyard.
- Pick up. The Humane Society estimates there are more than 77 million owned dogs in the United States. If one of them belongs to you, make sure to pick up after your pet at home and on walks.
- Slow down. Keep rain water on your property by directing downspouts onto a lawn or grassy area, away from driveways and sidewalks.
- Use less. Try reducing the amount of fertilizers and pesticides you use on your lawn and garden. When you do apply yard-care products, make sure there is no rain in the forecast to minimize impacts on water quality.
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(Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. www.epa.gov/owow; Think Blue Maine, http://www.thinkbluemaine.org/, University of Maryland – College Park Home and Garden Information Center, The Humane Society of the United States, www.hsus.org)