How can you help prevent stormwater pollution?

Common individual behaviors have the potential to generate stormwater pollution - littering, disposing of pet waste, applying lawn chemicals, washing vehicles, changing motor oil, and disposing of leftover paint and household chemicals. It takes individual change to control such pollution. It is important to understand the significance of limiting pollution that ultimately drains, untreated, directly into our water.

The following are additional methods to prevent stormwater pollution:

  1. Remember: Only rain belongs in the drain! Don't dump anything down storm drains. Be sure to clear away leaves and debris.
  2. Clean up pet waste. Bag up pet waste and dispose of it in the trash to prevent harmful bacteria from washing into local waterways.
  3. Use lawn or garden chemicals sparingly. Choose organic alternatives when possible and check the weather forecast to avoid applying them before a storm.
  4. Wash your car over your lawn or gravel. This allows the ground to neutralize the soap and grime from your car rather than sending it directly to our creeks and streams. Use biodegradable or non-toxic soap that is phosphate-free. You can also take your car to a commercial car wash where wastewater is either recycled or treated.
  5. Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces; consider planting a rain garden or installing a rain barrel to collect the stormwater roof runoff. There are several environmental benefits associated with rain barrels. By using harvested rainwater for watering lawns, gardens, potted plants, and for washing off patio furniture and tools, rain barrels conserve water. With a rain barrel, gardeners can minimize or eliminate their use of chemical fertilizers.
  6. Mow your lawn less often. Try to keep your lawn at least 3" in height to minimize weed growth, reduce the need for watering, and decrease the likelihood of pests. Leaving the clippings on the lawn can also help block weeds and retain moisture. View the Lawn Care Tips to Help Curb Stormwater Pollution (JPG) for more details.
  7. Sweep your sidewalks and driveway rather than hosing them down.
  8. Plant native, low-maintenance plants and grasses. They often have longer root systems, which reduce the amount of chemicals and water needed. Try seeding your lawn with Buffalo Grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) or Northern Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). For native plant listings, try Wildflowers or USDA.
  9. Keep your car well-maintained. Fix any fluid leaks promptly and make sure to clean up any spills. If you perform your own automotive maintenance, we collect used motor oil at our Wastewater Treatment Plant quarterly (call for details at 978-546-7888.
  10. Be sure to minimize the amount of ice melt used. Do not over-apply salt. Choose a more environmentally friendly alternative when possible.
  11. Consider minimizing impervious surfaces around your home. Use bricks, gravel, cobbles, natural stone, or permeable pavers instead of asphalt or concrete when possible.
  12. Do not drain your pool, spa, or fountain to a storm drain. Allow chlorine to dissipate for several days. Test the water to ensure the residual chlorine is zero before slowly draining to a landscaped area. You may be able to drain to a sanitary sewer.
  13. Keep your septic system well-maintained to prevent leaks. A leaking septic system can leach harmful bacteria into storm sewer systems and local waterways. It is important to keep your system well-maintained to prevent costly repairs as well. View the Septic Maintenance Infographic (JPG) for quick tips to keep your septic system healthy.
  14. Walk, bike, or share a ride when possible. Driving causes particulates to enter our air. This air pollution can contaminate our rain and end up in our streams and lakes.

Show All Answers

1. What is stormwater?
2. Why is stormwater pollution so bad?
3. How can you help prevent stormwater pollution?