As rain and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction sites, they pick up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease, and many other pollutants on their way to our streams, rivers and lakes. Stormwater runoff is the most common cause of water pollution. Because stormwater pollution is caused by so many different activities in so many places in our watershed, individual responsibility is the key to protecting our waters from this pollution source.
Clean Water Household Habits
Stormwater can flow into a storm drain or directly into a water body. Anything that enters a storm drain is discharged untreated into lakes, streams or rivers we use for swimming, fishing, and drinking water. By practicing clean water household habits, you can help keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of stormwater to protect out waters.
Vechicle & Garage
- Check your vehicles and other equipment for leaks and spills. Make repairs as soon as possible. Clean up spilled fluids with an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sand.
- Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids at participating service stations. Don't dump these chemicals on roads or driveways, down the storm drain, or dispose of them in your trash.
- Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface to minimize the amount of dirty, soapy water flowing into a storm drain or water body.
Lawns & Gardens
- Select native plants and grasses that are drought and pest resistant. Native plants require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
- Maintain or plant a buffer of shrubs and trees (not grass) on stream banks and lake shores to absorb runoff and filter pollutants out before they reach a stream, river or lake.
- Limit the amount of grass area that needs watering and mowing.
- Install water-efficient drip or trickle irrigation systems.
- Use mulch to keep soil moist, prevent erosion, and smother weeds.
- Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, be sure to use only the recommended amounts. Avoid application if rain is predicted to prevent the chemicals from being washed into surface waters or groundwater.
- Don't over-water your lawn and don't let water run off into the street, storm drain or a water body.
- Cover piles of dirt and mulch being used in landscape projects to prevent them from blowing or washing off into water bodies.
- Sweep up yard debris rather than hosing down areas. Compost yard waste when possible.
Home Repair & Improvement
- Use hazardous materials like paints, solvents, and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible and follow the directions on the label. Clean up spills immediately and dispose of waste safely. Check with a local household hazardous waste collection program to see what products they accept.
- Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled and recyclable products whenever possible.
- Filter and reuse paint thinner when using oil-based paints. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program or donate unused paint to a local organization.
- Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area on your property to reduce runoff.
BMPs Tool Box
See our BMPs tool box for more information about actions you can take to protect water quality.