In undeveloped areas, precipitation typically soaks into the ground. When buildings, parking lots, roads and other hard surfaces are added to the landscape, the ground cannot absorb the water. Water from rain or snow storms, known as storm water, instead flows over streets, parking lots and roofs and into a water body or storm drain. The water then gets carried to a creek, stream, bay and eventually out to the ocean, carrying whatever was on the ground with it. Human activities often result in depositing pollutants into the environment. Once these pollutants get into the water cycle they never leave - https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclesummary.html - therefore it is important to try and reduce the amount of pollutants generated.
Simple Things You Can Do to Help Reduce Pollutant Generation and Improve Water Quality
- Keep your vehicle maintained and leak free. When pumping gas…make sure you tip the nozzle down and jiggle it a bit before pulling it out to avoid drips on the ground.
- Use a car wash instead of doing it at home. All that soapy water and dirt will get captured appropriately vs being sent down the street and into the storm drain. If you must wash your vehicle at home, park it on the lawn, that way the water gets absorbed.
- Clean up pet waste and encourage others to do so as well.
- Do not litter, spit out gum, put out cigarettes or dump beverages on the ground. It may not seem like a big deal, but the behaviors of millions of people add up to a huge global problem.
- Keep trash cans closed, do not store paint cans or other chemicals outside where the rain water can get on them.
- Keep dirt piles covered and dispose of lawn clippings, weeds and leaves in green waste containers. You can also leave lawn clippings on the lawn (which acts as a fertilizer) - just make sure they don’t get into the street gutter. All of these materials including grass clippings contain phosphorus. According to the U.S. EPA, phosphorus is one of the most troublesome pollutants in storm water runoff and it is considered the primary cause of water quality problems in our lakes, ponds and streams.
Trash has become a serious problem for water quality. Humboldt State University will soon begin implementing trash reduction practices in order to help the statewide effort to reduce trash in the waterways. Learn more about the impact of trash and why HSU needs to comply with the required amendments.