Oct 30, 2018
It’s autumn and time to prepare for the rainy season and winter. This time of year, is when we are thinking about raking up leaves, cleaning out rain-gutters, and undertaking some car maintenance like replacing wiper blades and changing the anti-freeze. But did you know you can also help protect our local creeks, communities and environment? With the coming rains, anything we spill, drop, throw, or store on the ground can be washed off by storm water and directly enters a creek or river, without treatment, having a toxic effect on fish and wildlife and people. Polluted runoff can come from a variety of sources - oil and grease from pavement; trash and pet waste from our yards or parks; fertilizers and pesticides from lawns or gardens; sediment from construction activities; and improperly stored loose materials like garden mulch or topsoil.
A good rule of thumb to remember is "Only rain down the storm drain" as almost everything else can become a pollutant and it is unlawful to put anything into the storm drains but storm water. Below are some ways that you can be rain ready and help reduce pollution in our waterways. It costs less to prevent pollution and flooding than to clean up the creeks or neighborhoods. Let's all do our part!
Another area of major concern for the next several years is the number of vacant lots or those under construction in burn areas. Sediment is a pollutant in our creeks as much as the other examples listed in this article. The property owners and contractors are responsible to protect their lots to prevent polluted discharges to the street gutter and storm drain systems, to keep clean rain water clean. Somecommon examples include meshed straw waddles around a lot’s perimeter, a contained wash-out area for concrete or paint, plastic sheets over stockpiles, and sweeping the street frontage daily help to keep sediment from reaching the storm drain. These protection measures, commonly called BestManagement Practices (BMPs), are temporary and need to be maintained frequently to work properly, especially during frequent winter rains. Erosion Control information can be found on the following websites:
We are all a part of neighborhoods, community, and the incredible environment we call home. One last way to support our home is to Report Spills or polluted discharges to the storm drain system (streets, inlets, pipes, ditches, and creeks). Report hazardous or unknown spills to 911. Report non-hazardous spills based on where you are in the watershed.
This article was authored by Forest L. Frasieur, of Santa Rosa Water, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA (www.rrwatershed.org) is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.
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