Monday, July 20, 2015

Ten Ways to Help Reduce Storm Water Pollution

By Kendra Fallon
  1. Reuse rainwater. Collecting rainwater in a rain barrel is a simple and inexpensive way to help reduce storm water runoff. This collected water can be used to water gardens or plants indoors.  
  2. Plant a rain garden. Water runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways and sidewalks can be redirected to a rain garden. A rain garden is full of native, drought-resistant plants that absorb rainwater and break down pollutants naturally. 
  3. Try out pervious pavers. Pervious pavers can be used to help soak up rain water rather than letting it run of into the storm sewers. Pervious pavers can be used for walkways, driveways or patios. In larger projects, pervious pavement is a good option. 
  4. Practice water-friendly car maintenance. Take your car to a car wash facility where the water is diverted to a wastewater treatment basin, rather than washing your car on your driveway or street. Check your car regularly for leaks – oil and gas residues left on the road ends up in our lakes and streams. 
  5. Don’t pour hazardous products into street gutters or storm drains. Once they enter the storm drain system, hazardous chemicals end up lakes and streams, harming fish, birds, and other wildlife. Visit for locations in the District that collect hazardous waste. 
  6. Plant a shoreline restoration habitat. Adding a garden of native plants on the shoreline of any waterway can help to filter out some of the pollutants before it reaches the water.  
  7. Limit your use of pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides can harm aquatic life such as fish and amphibians and fertilizer releases phosphorus into our waterways, which can cause algal blooms that deplete oxygen and block sunlight in the water.  
  8. Make sure your trash doesn’t end up in our waterways. Make sure all of your trash ends up in a trash can. Check your trash and recycle bins to be sure they’re securely closed.  
  9. Put your cigarette butts in the trash. Don’t drop cigarette butts on the sidewalk or throw them into gutters or storm drains. The plastic cigarette filters don’t break down in the environment. They also release toxic chemicals, including arsenic and lead and can get trapped in the digestive tracts of fish, birds and many sea creatures. 
  10. Clean up after your pet. Bacteria, parasites and viruses that live in pet waste can wash into storm drains and end up in our natural waters without being treated.
Contact the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District to learn more about how you can help control storm water pollution and learn about the BMP Incentive Program where you could receive funds to help install some of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) mentioned above in your yard.



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  2. Thanks for the article! All of your tips are really handy, and most are easy, common sense things people should be doing anyway! I really like the idea of a rain garden, it sounds like a fun weekend project with a purpose, same with the shoreline restoration habitat. I hope everyone already properly disposes their cigarettes though!

    Caroline @ ILSI Engineering

  3. Thanks for this Kendra! People would do well by following these tips. And aside from storm water issues, there are a whole lot more factors that contribute to the growing crisis that is water pollution. Despite this, there are also a myriad of ways ordinary citizens can help alleviate the problem. Tips people can follow include those stated here.

    Change begins with each and every one of us. We should all do our parts in solving environmental problems.