Protecting Our WaterHow You Can Help
What You Can Do at Home
Excess salt can run off paved surfaces into surface and groundwater increasing chloride concentrations to unacceptable levels. Shovel snow early and often in the winter and try an alternative to salt, such as kitty litter or potassium chloride.
Fuel Storage Tanks
Leaking above and underground storage tanks are a major source of contamination. Check all tanks on your property regularly for leaks.
Leaves and grass clippings
The next time you mow your lawn, mulch, bag, or compost your grass clippings, but don’t let it run into the storm drains. All that grass can end up in our lakes and rivers and release nutrients, which make weeds and algae grow.
Properly dispose of household hazardous waste
Never dump items such as motor oil, fuel products, cleaners, paints, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides on the ground or down the drain. They can contaminate groundwater and surface water.
Wash cars at a commercial car wash or on the lawn so that wash water can be absorbed and naturally filtered, avoiding streets and storm drains.
Conserve water by checking for household leaks
Use this checklist to detect leaks in your home’s plumbing system. Those small leaks can really add up to a lot of wasted water. A leaky faucet can waste up to 100 gallons of water per day!
Use no-phosphorus fertilizer
In 2012, the State of Michigan banned the use of fertilizer containing phosphorus for residential use with a few exceptions (new turf and where soil tests show deficiency). Fertilizers list their nutrient with three numbers in order as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. For example, a fertilizer listed as 5-10-10 has 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium. So, be sure to choose a fertilizer with a middle number of 0.
Only rain in the storm drain
Rain water and snow melt are the only things that should wash down our storm drains. Anything else—grass clippings, leaves, motor oil, and fertilizer—is considered an illicit discharge. Storm water travels UNTREATED to lakes, rivers or wetland.
Close any abandoned wells on your property. They can act as conduits for contamination of groundwater.
If you have a septic system, have it checked every 2–3 years to insure it is working properly. Improperly maintained septic systems can leach harmful nutrients and bacteria into the surface and groundwater.
Pet waste can act as a fertilizer in surface water, triggering algal growth and decreased oxygen levels. Plus it’s full of bacteria that can be harmful to human health. Be a responsible pet owner and prevent contamination of the surface water and groundwater we all share by cleaning up anything—“left behind” on your walk.
Travel Trailer Waste
During the camping season, remember to properly dispose of your black water tank waste at a designated RV sanitary dump station. Improper disposal of waste contaminates the ground and water and leaves the “great outdoors”—not-so-great!