Stormwater Awareness Week: Take Action
There are a few actions that homeowners and others can take on their own to help reduce stormwater runoff and pollution. The first action to take is to know that you never dump anything down storm drains and to report illegal dumping if you see it. This includes trash, chemicals like paint or oils, and even lawn clippings. Properly dispose of any household hazardous waste at approved collection sites in Butler County that can be found on the Butler County Recycling and Solid Waste District website. Be cautious of any hazardous products you might use that can easily spill and potentially enter storm drains. Here are a few things to consider if you do any of the following:
If you do any lawn or yard work, pesticides and fertilizers are more than likely in use. If they need to be used, try to only use the specified amount on the label. Try not to apply these chemicals near the street or near streams, as these will directly enter the waterways through stormwater runoff and will not have a chance to filter through soil or plants. You can test your soil to learn which nutrients are lacking and to get a recommendation on fertilizers and correct amounts needed. Also do not apply fertilizers or pesticides if rain is forecasted within the next 24 hours.
If you own a vehicle or work on vehicles,
Recycle any used motor oil at service stations like Valvoline Instant Oil Change. Some may also take your antifreeze. Never dump oil or antifreeze down storm drains.
Wash your car at a car wash and not on your driveway, as soapy wastewater will flow into the storm drain. If you need to wash your car at home, try to wash it in the lawn is the water can soak into the soil.
Regularly maintain and check your vehicle to ensure there are no leaks.
A few other actions you can take to reduce pollution is to pick up pet waste from yards. Pet waste can cause nutrient and bacteria pollution in local waterways and can deplete oxygen levels. Also, never sweep dirt, leaves, or other debris in the storm drains, as this can clog storm drains, increasing flooding potential, and can pollute waterways as well. You can start a compost pile with yard waste like grass clippings and leaves!
While these tips are easy day to day actions to take, there are a few other larger scale projects that can be implemented where you live. One such option would to be to install a rain garden. Rain gardens are depressions filled with water-loving, beautiful plants that can help soak up stormwater. The excess stormwater is filtered through the soil and pollutants like heavy metals, nutrients, and bacteria and viruses are removed. Rain gardens can be constructed in a wet area in your yard or water from a driveway or downspout can be directed to the rain garden. Instead of the water running off your property into storm drains as stormwater, it can now be directed into a rain garden. You can also collect stormwater using a rain barrel that is connected to a downspout. This water can then be used to water plants and your yard. Permeable pavement can also be installed as a driveway which will allow stormwater to soak in instead of running off impervious asphalt or concrete
If you live near a stream, leave a buffer next to the stream with plants that help stabilize streambanks. This buffer can slow stormwater and help filter out some of the pollutants from entering streams. Plants along the streambank can also help prevent future erosion as roots can help keep soils intact. Large trees like sycamores are great along streambanks, but you can also plant buttonbush, ninebark, and spicebush.
In Butler County, there are several ways for you to get involved in stormwater pollution prevention. Butler County has a Stream Team organized by the Butler County Stormwater District and Butler Soil and Water Conservation District. Each month, we collect water samples from bridges along several streams throughout the county. These samples are analyzed in a Miami University lab for water quality parameters such as pH, conductivity, nitrate and phosphate and can give us insight into what pollutants may be in our streams. If you keep up to date with our website or Facebook page, we hold several stream and wetland cleanups each year. You could also partake in storm drain labeling if your neighborhood does not already have labels. If you are interested in these or other volunteer opportunities, reach out to Butler Soil and Water Conservation District at 513-887-3720 or email@example.com.