Simple Actions at Home
We all live downstream from someone. By taking a few precautions in our own homes,we can make sure that everyone has access to clean and healthy water. Below are a few simple ways you can make a positive impact on water quality in your watershed both inside your home and outside of it.
OUTSIDE THE HOME
PROPER USE OF PESTICIDES AND FERTILIZERS
Pesticides and fertilizers can wash off of our lawns and into our waterways during storms. Pesticides and fertilizers contain nutrients and toxins that harm aqautic health.
- Apply at the right time and in the right amounts. If more fertilizer is applied than the grass can utilize, it can wash into nearby streams and lakes.
- Get a soil test to see what your soil needs.
- Fertilizer with slow release nitrogen is better for the environment.
- Identify the pest, disease, or cause of the problem.
- Learn when and where pesticides are needed.
- Select chemicals that are the least toxic or that break down quickly.
- Always read the label before mixing and applying pesticides.
USE LANDSCAPING PRACTICES THAT PREVENT EROSION
Protect soil by planting groundcover vegetation or by using mulch. Soil washed away by rain can pollute streams and lakes.
Gardens and construction sites with areas of bare soil, especially on sloped land are prone to erosion.
Use the mulch setting on your mower and start grass-cycling. Just leave the grass on the lawn. It provides needed nutrients to the soil and grass.
PICK UP AFTER PETS
Picking up after our furry friends helps eliminate the chance of their waste contmainating local streams with nutrients and E. coli. Be sure to pack the proper bags when recreating outdoors and clean up the waste in and around your yard.
Dispose of pet waste properly by either collecting the waste and flushing it down the toilet, burying it in the yard about 5 inches deep, or putting it in the trash.
COLLECT AND DISPOSE OF CAR FLUIDS
Cars leak oil, fuel, and other toxic chemicals. Proper maintenance of internal combustion engines prevents any unwanted fluid leaks. Motor oil and other contaminants often wash into storm drains and contaminate local water bodies. If you know of current leaks, try to catch them on a cloth or in some sort of container and dipose of the fluid at collection centers.
Also, 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 (Fact sheets about washing cars)
- 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
- 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. Never pour them directly onto the yard.
- Use nontoxic, biodegradable and recycled material whenever possible
POOLS AND SEPTICS
- 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
INSIDE THE HOME
USE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRODUCTS
Houshold cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that can negatively impact local water quality. The EPA created the Safer Choice label for cleaning products that meet their environmnetal standards. Look for this logo on cleaning products or check out this website to find a list of qualifying products.
Buy only the cleaning products you need, and in smaller quantities that you will use rather than have to dispose of.
PROPERLY DISPOSE OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
Never flush unwanted or out of date medications. Proper disposal will ensure they don't contaminate your local waterhsed. Drop them off at a collection center (find one near you here) or throw them away using guidance found here.
Selecting and Using Organic FertilizerSelecting and Using Inorganic FertilizerWater-Wise Landscaping: MulchUtah Fertilizer GuideWater-Wise Landscaping: Plant Maintenance