Clean Water Is Everybody’s Business

That’s the tagline on two U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publications; one is about protecting water quality from Urban Runoff and the other is about protecting water quality from Agricultural Runoff. Even though both publications are a little out of date, 2003 and 2005 respectively, they have some good information.

Urban runoff is something everyone can work to control. To decrease polluted runoff from paved surfaces, households can develop alternatives to areas traditionally covered by impervious surfaces. Porous pavement materials are available for driveways and sidewalks, and native vegetation and mulch can replace high maintenance grass lawns. Homeowners can use fertilizers sparingly and sweep driveways, sidewalks, and roads instead of using a hose. Instead of disposing of yard waste, they can use the materials to start a compost pile. And homeowners can learn to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce dependence on harmful pesticides.

In addition, households can prevent polluted runoff by picking up after pets and using, storing, and disposing of chemicals properly. Drivers should check their cars for leaks and recycle their motor oil and antifreeze when these fluids are changed. Drivers can also avoid impacts from car wash runoff (e.g., detergents, grime, etc.) by using car wash facilities that do not generate runoff. Households served by septic systems should have them professionally inspected and pumped every 3 to 5 years. They should also practice water conservation measures to extend the life of their septic systems. 

Not everyone can do something about Agricultural Runoff. So it’s up to farmers and livestock producers to employ best management practices and follow the regulations aimed at controlling the flow of contaminating chemicals, nutrients and other byproducts of farming into lakes, streams and the ground water. It’s also up to elected officials to enact and provide enforcement of laws that keep pace with the growth and scale of modern agriculture to minimize its impact on water quality.

It’s important that we all conserve and protect the groundwater. It’s bad enough that private wells throughout the county have been contaminated, no matter what the source. However, if the aquifers that supply safe drinking water to us all are contaminated beyond repair, then it will be too late to do anything about it. Every day going forward is an opportunity to do something that will positively impact the quality of our water. Do what you can. Encourage others to make a difference too.

Links to both publications follow:


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