What Can You Do to Help Prevent Polluted Runoff & Erosion?
Things you can do to help prevent urban stormwater runoff include:
Keep litter, pet wastes, leaves, and debris out of street gutters and storm drains--these outlets drain directly to lake, streams, rivers, and wetlands.
Apply lawn and garden chemicals sparingly and according to directions.
Dispose of used oil, antifreeze, paints, and other household chemicals properly, not in storm sewers or drains. If your community does not already have a program for collecting household hazardous wastes, ask your local government to establish one.
Clean up spilled brake fluid, oil, grease, and antifreeze. Do not hose them into the street where they can eventually reach local streams and lakes.
Control soil erosion on your property by planting ground cover and stabilizing erosion-prone areas.
Encourage local government officials to develop construction erosion/sediment control ordinances in your community.
Limit the amount of impenetrable surfaces in your landscape. Use permeable paving surfaces such as wood decks, bricks, and concrete lattice to let water soak into the ground.
Allow thick vegetation or buffer strips to grow along waterways to slow runoff and soak up pollutants. Plant trees, shrubs, and ground cover. They will absorb up to 14 times more rainwater than a grass lawn and don't require fertilizer.
Use natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If you must use chemicals, test your soil to determine the right amount. See also Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety. (PDF format)
Don't hose down driveways or sidewalks. Dry sweeping paved areas, along with careful trash disposal, are simple, effective pollution reducers.
Gutters and down spouts should drain onto vegetated or gravel- filled seepage areas - not directly onto paved surfaces. Splash blocks also help reduce erosion.
Divert runoff from pavement to grassy, planted or wooded areas of your property, so stormwater can seep slowly into the ground.
Compost grass clippings and leaves. Never allow them to wash into roadways where they will reach storm drains.
Get involved in the planning and zoning process in your community. That's where the decisions are made that shape the course of development and the future quality of our environment.
Place litter, including cigarette butts, in trash receptacles. Never throw litter in streets or down storm drains.
Properly dispose of household hazardous wastes. Many common household products, (paint thinners, moth balls, drain and oven cleaners, etc.) contain toxic ingredients. When improperly used or discarded, these products are a threat to public health and the environment. Do not pour hazardous products down any drain or toilet. Do not discard with regular household trash. Learn about natural and less toxic alternatives and use them whenever possible. Contact your County Solid Waste Management Office for information regarding hazardous waste collection in your area.
Recycle all used motor oil by taking it to a service station or local recycling center. Motor oil contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and animals. Do not dump used motor oil down storm drains or on the ground.
Animal wastes contain bacteria and viruses that contaminate shellfish and cause the closing of bathing areas. Pet owners should pick up after their pets and dispose of the wastes in the garbage or toilet.
Wash your car on the grass so soapy water soaks into the ground. Use a hose nozzle to prevent water from running when not in use.
Courtesy EPA's pollution
brochure EPA-841-F-94-005, 1994, "Urban Stormwater Runoff", and
"More Examples of What You Can Do to Prevent Nonpoint Source Pollution", from Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.