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Clean water starts with ...


Because storm drains are basically rainwater expressways leading directly into our lakes and rivers, it’s time to pay attention to what clogs or gets through the grates. By cleaning away grass clippings, leaves, litter and debris from storm sewer grates, and keeping your driveway, curb and gutter clean, you help protect the water for all of us and the wildlife that depend on it. Do your part — maintain the drain for rain.

It is illegal to dump anything other than clean water into the storm drain system.
To report illegal dumping, please contact your local government office.

Direct downspouts away from driveways or storm drains to green spaces or rain barrels. Pollutants picked up from your roof can be kept out of the waterways if they are first filtered and used by your existing vegetation. If the downspouts are directed to impervious surfaces like your driveway and storm sewer, they will make their way directly to the closest waterway. You can direct your downspouts directly onto vegetated surfaces, or install a rain barrel to collect the rain and distribute it as needed to other parts of your yard during drier periods.

Learn how to disconnect your downspout.

Use low or no phosphorus fertilizers and do not overuse or misapply fertilizers onto sidewalks and paved areas. When it rains, any misapplied fertilizers sitting on sidewalks or other paved areas will get washed into drainage ways and make their way, untreated, into our waterways.

Learn more about sustainable lawn care.

Some of the best fertilizer is right under your mower. Full of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, grass clippings feed new plant growth and help hold moisture in the soil. But those same nutrients pose a problem when they wash down storm sewers into our lakes and rivers, causing algae growth that ruins the water for fish, other wildlife, and recreation. By keeping grass clippings off your driveway, sidewalk and street, you score an environmental win-win — better lawn, better water.

Learn more about sustainable lawn care.

The fertilized soil that you created by mulching or composting can be recycled in your yard and reused as natural fertilizer.

Learn more about composting.

Plant or keeping buffer zones around ponds, wetlands, lakes, and streams. Undisturbed (unmowed) vegetation along streams and drainage pathways will capture nutrients that wash off your lawn before they are discharged to the waterway. Use of deep-rooted native plants improves water quality and wildlife habitat.

Learn more about sustainable lawn care.

Water naturally runs toward lower ground, so turn low-lying areas around your home into rain gardens that can filter out pollution from stormwater runoff. Plant trees, shrubs and grasses into layers of gravel, sand and soil. It’s a pleasant landscaping design that can keep pollution from reaching open waters, recharge groundwater aquifers and provide valuable habitat for wildlife all at the same time.

How to plant a rain garden.

Fill ‘er up for free! You and your yard will feel great when you store every downpour in your very own rain barrel. It’s the perfect plan to keep your gardens green and reduce runoff, save on your water bill, and dodge a drought. So save up and green up — roll out the barrel and put the rain to work.

How to build a rain barrel.

Feeding a lake or river too many leaves or other yard waste creates a bumper crop of algae turning lakes into pools of pea-green sludge with too little oxygen for the fish. To keep our lakes fishable, swimmable, clear and clean, compost your leaves at least 100 feet from the shoreline, or take advantage of the nearest public composting facility. Happy lakes, happy fish, happy people.

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