King County residents consistently rate water quality as the most important environmental issue to them.
This month, we’ll be taking a look at stormwater runoff – the leading source of pollution for Puget Sound – its impacts, the myths, and the pollution prevention actions we’re taking as well as actions you can take at home.
Let’s start with seven simple actions you can take to help restore Puget Sound.
SCOOP THE POOP
Our Puget Sound pets produce 200 pounds of poop every day! This can contain bacteria like E. coli and parasites like Giardia and roundworms. Keep this ick out of runoff by picking up after your pet and putting it in the trash. Learn more at http://www.scooppoop.org
PROPERLY DISPOSE OF WASTE
Keep oil, fertilizers, pesticides, paints and other chemicals out of the storm drains. Find out where you can get rid of these safely. If you see an oil spill call the emergency response line at 800-OILS-911. You can report polluters to Puget Soundkeepers Alliance at 800-42-PUGET.
USE CAR WASH FACILITIES OR WASH YOUR CAR ON YOUR LAWN
If you wash your car in the driveway, then soap, oil and metals flow into storm drains and into the nearest waterway. Prevent this by taking your car to a car wash facility that treats or recycles its water.
WALK, BIKE AND TAKE PUBLIC TRANSIT
Hydrocarbons and emissions from vehicles on the road add up. Heavy metals like copper and zinc come off brake pads and tires. How often can you substitute a car trip with a walk, bike or public transportation trip? Learn more about biking at www.cascade.org or http://www.bikeworks.org
PLANT AND PROTECT NATIVE EVERGREENS
Native forests act like giant stormwater holding tanks! A mature evergreen absorbs 250 gallons of rainwater a day. Evergreens work all winter long when deciduous trees have lost their leaves. To find out about joining forest restoration efforts, contact the Green Seattle Partnership, www.greenseattle.org. Protect native evergreens from invasive species like English Ivy, holly and blackberry.
PRACTICE NATURAL YARD CARE
Using compost and mulch instead of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides keeps toxics out of runoff AND builds a spongy healthy soil that grows lush lawns and gardens. Also be sure to put the right plant in the right place (sun-loving plants won’t do well in the shade no matter what you do). Learn more at http://www.naturalyardcare.info
KEEP WATER ON SITE WITH RAIN GARDENS OR CISTERNS
Letting rain soak in to the ground or take a detour into a cistern (a giant rain barrel) is a great solution for stopping the runoff from heavy rains. Some neighborhoods in Seattle – where big rains may cause sewer overflows because the sewer pipes and storm pipes are connected – can get rebates for rain gardens and cisterns. Check your eligibility. Lots more information is available at http://www.12000raingardens.org.