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Stormwater and Your Home
As stormwater flows over driveways, lawns, and sidewalks, it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants. Stormwater can flow into a storm drain system or directly to a creek, river, lake, wetland or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm drain system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water. Polluted runoff is the nation’s greatest threat to clean water.
By practicing healthy household habits, homeowners can keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, grass clippings, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of stormwater. Adopt these healthy household habits and help protect creek, river, wetland or coastal waters. Remember to share the habits with your neighbors!
- Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Avoid application if the forecast calls for rain; otherwise, chemicals will be washed into your local creek.
- Select native plants and grasses that are drought- and pest-resistant. Native plants require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
- Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing down driveways and sidewalks. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible
- Don’t over-water your lawn. Water during the cool times of the day, and don’t let water run off into the storm drains.
- Cover piles of dirt and mulch being used in landscaping projects to prevent these pollutants from blowing or washing off your yard and into the local waterbodies. Vegetate bare spots in your yard to prevent soil erosion.
Home Repair and Improvement
- Before beginning an outdoor project, locate the nearest storm drains and protect them from debris and other materials.
- Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris such as concrete and mortar.
- Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents, and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible, and follow the directions on the label. Clean up spills immediately, and dispose of the waste safely. Store substances properly to avoid leaks and spills.
- Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled, and recyclable products whenever possible.
- Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors. Filter and reuse paint thinner when using oil-based paints. Properly dispose of excess paints through the hazmobile, or donate unused paint to local organizations.
- Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard. Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods. Consider directing downspouts away from paved surfaces and onto lawns. Consider other measures to increase infiltration and reduce polluted runoff.
- The EPA has released a homeowner’s guide to healthy habits for clean water:
The Solution to Stormwater Pollution!
- The EPA has released a pamphlet detailing the best methods for using water-efficient landscaping. It contains background, instructions and examples on this environmentally friendly way to landscape your home.
Water-Smart Landscapes, Start with WaterSense