WHAT IS STORMWATER POLLUTION?
Water from rain and melting snow that flows over lawns, parking lots and streets is known as stormwater runoff. This water, which travels along gutters, into catch basins and through storm drain pipes and ditches, usually is not treated, but then flows or is discharged into local waterbodies. Along the way, the stormwater picks up trash (fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts, styrofoam cups, etc.) and toxins and other pollutants (gas, motor oil, antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides and pet droppings). This polluted stormwater can kill fish and other wildlife, destroy wildlife habitat, contaminate drinking water sources and force the closing of beaches because of health threats to swimmers.
Human activity is largely responsible for the stormwater pollution. Everything that we put on the ground or into the storm drain can end up in our water. Each of us has a responsibility to make sure these contaminants stay out of our water. Whether we have clean water is up to you.
What Can You Do?
Properly dispose of trash and cigarettes:
You can help by disposing cigarette butts and other trash properly in waste receptacles. Never throw anything out of your car or boat. Do not empty ash trays in parking lots, roads, or waterways and never dump anything into a storm drain.
Minimize use of Fertilizers and Pesticides:
Fertilizers and pesticides used in lawns and gardens can be a significant source of water pollution. Over-use or misapplication of these chemicals will adversely impact water quality when they find their way into groundwater and surface water systems.
Fertilizers stimulate the growth of algae. When the algae die and decompose, this depletes the supply of oxygen for fish and other organisms, a process called “eutrophication”. Always test the pH of your soil before applying fertilizers to optimize uptake by plants and prevent leaching into groundwater.
Follow New Jersey’s rules for fertilizer use or consider using non-polluting alternatives, such as compost and natural organic fertilizers. Try to apply best practices for pesticide use including: spot-treating problem areas, using biological pest control such as beneficial insects, and plant companion plants such as marigolds. For more information, visit the [Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station].
Clean up pet waste:
Bacteria and pathogens from pet and waterfowl waste can end up in ponds and streams, compromising surface water quality in the immediate area and all points downstream. Always pick up after your pet. Waste should be disposed of in the trash or toilet; never in storm drains.
Properly maintain your vehicles:
Automotive products contain toxic chemicals including motor oil, gasoline, battery acid, antifreeze, etc. Used motor oil is contaminated with heavy metals, lead and chemical additives. Antifreeze is also very toxic and can be fatal when ingested. Pets, children and wildlife are attracted to spilled antifreeze because of its sweet taste. For all of these reasons, these products must never be dumped into a storm drain. Disposal of these materials is regulated in New Jersey and they should be taken to the Essex County recycling center or to a participating service station.
You can also help by maintaining your vehicle to prevent leaks, washing your car only when necessary and when possible, use a car wash that recycles its water.
Create a Rain Garden on your property:
A rain garden for your home is designed to capture the runoff from your roof, driveway and property. This will help maintain groundwater levels and reduce runoff.
The garden should be constructed in a low area of the yard. It is bowl-shaped, rather than bermed, and planted with native plant species. There is much information available on the internet, including planting plans. For more information, start with the Rutgers NJ Agriculture Extension Station or the Native Plant Society of New Jersey.
For more information, please visit the websites below:
Fredon Code Addressing Stormwater