What can I do to help?

There’s a lot you can do to make a difference in reducing stormwater pollution!  Every day we do little things that add to the pollution being flushed down our storm drains.  By identifying your pollution contribution, you can reverse the effect.  Here are some areas in which you can help:


Cars are the biggest contributor of pollution in urban runoff.  They leak oil, fuel, and other toxic chemicals.  Brake pads release copper.  Tires release zinc and other toxic chemicals.  And washing your car rubs off bits of metal and chemicals, not to mention the harsh soap you may use to wash your car.  All of these things end up in our gutters and pollute our watersheds.  Here are some things you can do to make your car cleaner:

  • Wash your car on your lawn or use a commercial car wash to minimize dirty soapy water flowing into storm drains
  • Check vehicles, boats and other machinery for leaks and make repairs as soon as possible
  • Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids at service facilities
  • Sweep your driveway instead of spraying it down with water
  Photo Credit: City of Loveland


Lawn and Garden

Traditional lawns and gardens are all too often in competition with the environment rather than working with it.  Lawns and many non-native plants consume large amounts of water, especially when we overwater them.  The overuse of fertilizer leaches excess nutrients which then get flushed down the storm drain either by storm or sprinkler.  And all sorts of other debris and yard waste can clog up storm drains if it gets in the gutter.  Here are some things you can do to conserve and protect water sources:

  • Install a rain water harvesting system to prevent stormwater runoff
  • Install rain gardens and bioswales to catch stormwater for use in your yard
  • Landscape with native and waterwise plants.  Check out ideas at the Utah House and the Center for Water Efficient Landscaping
  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly.  Avoid application of fertilizers and pesticides if the forecast predicts rain in the near future
  • Sweep up yard debris instead of washing it down
  • Compost or recycle yard waste when possible
  • Don't overwater your lawn
  • Water during cool parts of the day
  Photo Credit: Susan Buffler


Home Improvement

Home projects can create all sorts of chemicals that are toxic to our health.  That’s why we can’t let them get into our stormwater.  When doing home improvement, try these steps to keep our watersheds clean:

  • Reduce the amount of pavement and increase the amount of vegetated area on your property.  Or consider replacing hard surfaced pavements with permeable pavements
  • Before beginning an outdoor project, locate the nearest storm drains and protect them from debris
  • Sweep up and properly dispose of excess construction material
  • Use hazardous materials (e.g. paints and cleaners) in the smallest amounts possible and if spilled clean up immediately
  • Use nontoxic, biodegradable and recycled material whenever possible
  Photo Credit: JJ Harrison


Pets, Pools, and Septics

Stormwater pollution can come in many different forms, even some you normally wouldn’t think about.  If any of these special situations apply to you, here’s how you can help:

  • Pick up and properly dispose of pet wastes
  • If you own a pool, only drain it when a test kit does not detect chlorine levels
  • If you have a septic system, have it inspected at least every 3 years
  • Don't flush harmful chemicals or items that may clog septic systems

Photo Credit: David Shankbone