In the United States today, the biggest threat to water quality is polluted runoff. This polluted runoff usually comes in the form of storm water - rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground. In residential areas, storm water flows from rooftops, across paved areas and through sloped lawns. As it moves across these surfaces, the runoff can pick up and carry pollutants like yard and pet waste, sediment, chemicals and automotive fluids.
Our individual actions can help reduce water pollution from storm water runoff. Keeping your car in good working condition is one step you can take. Leaks and outdoor spills of antifreeze, oil, brake fluid and other automotive fluids are easily carried away by water runoff.
Pesticides and fertilizers can also be carried in storm water. When applying pesticides and fertilizers in the home landscape, be sure to follow the recommended application rates. Listen to your local weather forecast, and do not apply chemicals if rain is expected within 24 hours.
One of the most common pollutants found in surface water is sediment. Maintaining a good ground cover in the landscape can help prevent soil erosion. Applying mulch to gardens and straw to newly seeded areas will slow erosion and prevent soil from polluting surface water.
The actions we take each day in and around our homes can impact water quality. Take precautions to ensure that storm water runoff around your home does not carry pollutants.Prepared by Kim Henken, Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resource Issues