Most people know it’s wrong to litter. But did you know that it’s just as harmful to our environment to sweep lawn trimmings onto the street or that detergents used to wash our cars and the fertilizer used to keep our lawns green can end up in our drinking water?
Not only is it illegal to litter, trash and debris find their way into our drainage system and contribute to flooding during heavy rains. When floods occur, residents call the county to unclog drains in their neighborhood. But neighbors who do their part to keep our drains clear of debris can help prevent or minimize flooding, says Drainage District General Manager Raul Sesin.
In addition to flooding issues, storm water runoff into the county’s waterways is a real problem that harms plants, fish, animals and people. During and after storms, impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent the water from naturally soaking into the ground. This water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants and flow into storm sewer systems or directly into a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters the storm sewer system is discharged untreated into waters we use for fishing, swimming and even into water that we drink.
“For too long we have taken our water supplies for granted,” Sesin said. “We have to be better stewards of this finite resource and learn how even simple things like washing a car or cutting your lawn ends up in our canals, rivers and lakes.”
Simple steps to help at home include: use environmentally-friendly products when washing the car, deck, boat, RV, or grill; don’t over water your lawn and use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly; compost or mulch yard waste, don’t leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains; and pick up debris in the yard. Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and increases public health risks. Pick up and properly dispose of your pet’s waste so it doesn’t end up in our water.
Those with septic tanks should have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped as needed, generally every three to five years and avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain, which can clog and damage septic systems.