What You Can Do to Reduce Storm Water Pollution

Stormwater pollution

We all love our local rivers and lakes; whether you fish, swim, or simply enjoy the views and wildlife. As November begins and the weather forecasts look increasingly wet, it’s a good idea to think about what we can do to prevent contamination of our watersheds via storm water.

As the rain sweeps over our neighborhoods and yards, our watersheds risk residential runoff pollution from chemicals and organic waste material. This time of year, we can all reassess the effects our household activities have on the natural systems around us. Here are a few good habits to keep harmful pollutants out of the waterways:

  • Pick up your pet’s waste every time! This can help prevent disease-causing pathogens from entering the water system.
  • Inspect your car for oil and antifreeze leaks. Soak any leaked fluid in kitty litter to dispose of it in the trash. Consider repairing long-term leaks.
  • Dispose of unwanted paints, solvents, and household cleaners responsibly (instructions for safe disposal are often listed on the container). Do not empty containers outside, where the chemicals may be transported by rainwater into the watershed.
  • Don’t fertilize your lawn or apply herbicides near ditches, gutters, or storm drains, especially prior to a rainstorm.
  • Try to avoid overwatering your lawn, as street runoff can carry chemicals from your yard into the waterway.
  • Inform members of your community about the hazards of storm water pollution. Report littering and illegal dumping of hazardous materials to your county's water department.
Potomac Eutrophication

Fishing and swimming become much more difficult when the water looks like this.

For more information and tips to avoid polluting the watershed, click here.

While residential runoff can contain a multitude of pollutants, agricultural and industrial runoff may also threaten local water quality. To read about how CSERC is monitoring water quality in the Northern Yosemite region’s waterways, click here.

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