Pollutants enter our waterways through various means and can degrade water quality. When water quality becomes degraded it can limit or restrict the ways in which we can use our surface waters as a resource. For example if there are high levels of bacteria in a stream, a sign may be posted that conditions are unsafe for swimming. Pollutants can be grouped into two categories based on their source: these are point source and nonpoint source pollution. Point source pollution comes from one source that is clearly identifiable like industrial or sewage treatment plants. On the other hand, nonpoint source pollution is diffuse runoff that is caused by rainfall washing across the ground. As the water moves across the ground it picks up pollutants, which are carried into our streams and rivers. Examples of nonpoint source pollution include; fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, bacteria and nutrients from animal waste and faulty septic tanks, oil, grease, gasoline and sediment. Unfortunately, we all play a part in contributing to nonpoint source pollution – but fortunately we can all do our part to reduce the amount of nonpoint source pollution entering our waterways.
There are many ways to reduce the amount of nonpoint source pollution entering our waterways. Here are a few ways you can help out…
- Pick up litter and dispose of it properly either by recycling it or putting it in a waste receptacle.
- Pick up pet waste and dispose of it by putting it in a sealed plastic bag and throwing it in the trash or flushing it down the toilet.
- Keep litter, pet waste, debris and leaves out of the storm drains. Storm drains drain directly to our streams and rivers.
- Have your septic tank inspected and pumped regularly. Septic tanks should be inspected and pumped ever 3-5 years at a minimum.
- Landscape your home with native plants and minimize exposed surfaces that could erode. Use permeable surfaces such as wood for decks and bricks and concrete lattice to allow water to soak into the ground.
- Have a soil test done before you fertilize and never fertilize before a heavy rain.
- Get involved with your local watershed organization.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." -- John Muir